Table of Contents

Introduction:..............................................................................................2 Step One, Part One—the Allergy of the Body:..........................................3 Step One, Part One—Allergy of the Body—Developing a Plan of Eating:. 6 Step One, Part Two—the Obsession of the Mind:...................................10 Step Two:.................................................................................................13 Step Three:..............................................................................................18 Step Four:................................................................................................23 Overview:............................................................................................24 Resentments:......................................................................................25 Continuing Step Four:..............................................................................31 Step Four—Fears:...............................................................................37 Step Four—Sex Conduct:....................................................................38 Step Four: Conclusion:.............................................................................40 Steps Five, Six, and Seven in one day!.....................................................42 Step Five:.................................................................................................42 Step Six:...................................................................................................44 Step Seven:..............................................................................................45 Steps Eight and Nine:..............................................................................46 Steps Ten and Eleven—Introduction:......................................................52 Step Ten:..................................................................................................54 Step Eleven:.............................................................................................56 Step Twelve—Introduction:....................................................................60 Step Twelve Continued:...........................................................................65 The Twelve Provocations:........................................................................68 Questions and responses:........................................................................71 Conclusion:..............................................................................................77 Appendices..............................................................................................82 Appendix One––Schematic Outline....................................................83 Appendix Two––Promises Checklist...................................................87 Appendix Three––The Arch of Freedom.............................................89


The following is an adaptation of a Step Study I did online in the summer and early fall of 2005. I’ve been in OA since February 11, 1986. I started working the steps and lost weight, then relapsed, then lost weight, then relapsed. Finally someone in the rooms confronted me (I’ll talk more about that in Step 12) and I discovered a method of working the steps that has worked for me. I became abstinent, worked the steps, and achieved the miracle of being freed from the foods that used to beckon to me, being able to be around them without wanting them. That has been true for me since some time in May, 1993. It took me about a year, as I look back, to achieve a healthy body weight, and I’ve maintained that body weight since that time. Beginning in March, 2005, I began to lose more weight for reasons I’ll talk about later.

their time and effort and experience to convey the message of recovery to those who still suffer.

The Big Book
OA stands for the proposition that the Twelve Steps give us freedom from the bondage of food. If the steps aren’t working for you, then maybe you’re not working the steps in a way that works for you. It might therefore be worth it to try the approach to the steps used in this step study, based on the Big Book. The Big Book was written as a set of directions for doing the steps. It was aimed at those people who would not be able to meet anyone from AA, because at the time it was published AA was centered in New York City, and Akron and Cleveland, Ohio. So the Big Book was written as a do-it-yourself manual. As such it is a textbook––a book which contains valuable information to compulsive eaters. It’s not a perfect book, that’s for sure. It was written by Christian male alcoholics who had found themselves in the gutter and had done a lot of harm to other people. It needs to be interpreted and applied for people who did not have their exact same experience, and it sometimes needs to be clarified because of its 1930s language. But besides its being a great inspirational and loving book, it is one of the greatest textbooks ever written, and I hope you’ll join me in the study of its directions! To help you in this Step Study, it would be useful for you to download certain documents and forms, including Step Four forms, which I use in weekend Big Book Studies I’ve done for many OA intergroups. They’re also reproduced in this study. You’re welcome to download them and distribute them however you want. The Step Four forms and the Step Eleven form were drawn up by an AA Big Book thumper in my home town of Winnipeg, Canada, named Blaine, and OA owes him a debt of gratitude for allowing these forms to be used. They’ve been used by thousands of people with great success! The forms have been slightly modified from Blaine’s originals. Howard W. of Minneapolis has reformatted the Step 4 and Steps 8 & 9 forms to allow them to be filled in on your computer using Adobe Reader. Included among the documents is also a Step Four Outline, which summarizes a lot of the concepts you’ll find discussed in this study. Go to

This Step Study
Those of you familiar with the well-known AA team of Joe and Charlie will recognize much of what I say here, although I base this study on my own experience, of course. Virtually all of this step study is based on what I have learned from the great AA speakers, Joe and Charlie, Roger, and Blaine D. (who’s from Winnipeg, Canada, my home town), and a lot of reading of AA history and experience. I don’t think much of what I have to say is particularly original. I therefore want to acknowledge the teachings of AA and of those who have given

Copyright © 2006-8 by Lawrie Cherniack. This version is dated Saturday, July 12, 2008. Because this represents a merging of the teachings of many Big Book thumpers, including the AA speakers Charlie, the two Joes, Blaine, and Roger, it’s not original. I’ve simply put together the thoughts of others from an Overeaters Anonymous perspective. The text is copyrighted only to make certain that it remains unchanged––not to prevent its use. Therefore reproduction of this book is permitted if the text and this note remain unchanged. This is a work constantly in progress. Criticisms, suggestions, disagreements, comments are very welcome. Contact me at 2
to download all the forms and get the latest version of this Step Study.

The basic outline of the Big Book’s discussion of the Steps is as follows: · Step One: “The Doctor’s Opinion”, part of Chapter One, “Bill’s Story”, most of Chapter Two, “There Is A Solution”, and Chapter Three, “More About Alcoholism”. Step Two: part of Chapter One, “Bill’s Story”, part of Chapter Two, “There Is A Solution”, Chapter Four, “We Agnostics”. Step Three: part of Chapter Five, “How It Works”. Step Four: part of Chapter Five, “How It Works”. Steps Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, and Eleven: Chapter Six, “Into Action”. Step Twelve: Chapter Seven, “Working With Others”, and part of Chapter Eleven, “A Vision For You”. Chapters Eight,”To The Wives”, Nine, “The Family Afterward”, and Ten, “To Employers”, can also be read as containing discussions of Step Twelve, but I won’t be dealing with them in any great detail.

The Twelve Provocations As I’ve been taught, the Big Book stands for the following concepts. Each one of them is controversial in some OA groups. They are simply intended to create some interest in what follows. They are not intended to be offensive, however. 1. I am a recovered compulsive eater, not a recovering one. 2. Abstinence is not the most important thing in my life without exception; the consciousness of the presence of God is. 3. Although a sponsor, if available, is very important for recovery, a sponsor is not necessary to recover. 4. You can recover in weeks. 5. The Tools of Recovery are not an essential part of the OA program. 6. You don’t take Steps One and Two. 7. Steps Three, Six, Seven, and Eight, should not take a long time to get through 8. You don’t make amends to yourself. 9. You should not sponsor until after you have completed Step Nine. 10. Service is not slimming. 11. Food can be discussed at meetings. 12. Some people who come to OA should consider not coming back unless and until they’re ready! These “provocations” are explained fully, beginning at page 68.


· · · ·

A much more detailed outline of the Big Book is found in A Schematic Outline of the Big Book as found at

The questions at the end of each chapter in this Big Book Study were part of the format of the original online Step Study on which this book is based. I hope they’re useful questions. They are not intended, however, to be substitutes for actually doing the steps. Doing the steps is what the rest of this step study is all about!


My Problem:

Step One, Part One—the Allergy of the Body:
The Big Book’s approach to Step One is what Dr. William Silkworth, the doctor who wrote the two letters found in The Doctor’s Opinion, called “the double whammy”. Put simply, we have (1) an abnormality of the body (he called it an “allergy of the body”) which means that once we start eating certain kinds of foods or indulging in certain compulsive eating behaviors we develop cravings which overpower us; and we have (2) an abnormality of the mind (he called it a “mental obsession”) which means that even if we stop eating those foods or indulging in those behaviors, our mind persuades us that we can return to eating those foods and indulging in those behaviors. Thus we can’t stop once we start (the allergy that creates cravings), and we can’t stop from starting again (the obsession that sends us back). We are thus in a vicious circle. That is the explanation for yo-yo dieting, and for all the despair that we bring to OA when we join. It’s often said that alcoholics can stop drinking but OAers can’t stop eating. From the Big Book perspective, that isn’t correct. Alcoholics have to drink, but they can’t drink alcohol. OAers have to eat, but they can’t eat the foods or indulge in the eating behaviors that create the cravings. The main difference between the member of AA and the member of OA is that everyone in AA knows that alcohol is the ingredient that AAers can’t drink, whereas in OA different people may have different foods they can’t eat and different eating behaviors they can’t indulge in. Part of the job of Step One is for each individual to figure that out for him- or herself. Please read The Doctor’s Opinion. It’s found just before page one in the book, although different editions have different page numbers. I ask you specifically to note the following. On page xxvi of the 4th edition (xxiv of the 3rd edition), the writers of the Big Book emphasize what they see in Dr. Silkworth’s long letter that is important for AA.

The Physical Allergy:
An allergy is an abnormal physical reaction to something. In my case, it’s my binge foods and my binge eating behaviors. Once I start eating my binge food or indulging in my binge eating behaviors, I find it almost impossible to stop eating it. The Mental Obsession: An obsession is an idea which takes control over all other ideas. In my case, if I’ve stopped eating my binge foods or indulging in my binge eating behaviors, my mental obsession gives me reasons to go back to eat the binge foods or indulge in my binge eating behaviors. My problem in a nutshell––the addict’s dilemma:

I can’t stop once I’ve started. And I can’t stop from starting again.
In this statement he confirms what we have suffered alcoholic torture MUST believe—that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is INCOMPLETE. On pages xxviii to xxix of the 4th edition (xxvi to xxvii 3rd edition), Dr. Silkworth talks about the allergy: The action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation [symptom] of an allergy; [and the allergy is a] phenomenon of craving [which] is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all. Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them

When I quote from the Big Book and omit some words, I don’t put in the usual dots like . . . I think it’ll be easier to follow. I also capitalize important words for emphasis. I urge you to read the original; don’t take my word for it that I’ve quoted fairly!


unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks. which is held around Christmas-time. I’ve just got to step. But the skin is very tough and I couldn’t just take off a bit. it’s just the fat of the goose that has dripped into the pan. the Festival of Lights. as well as deepfried pancakes over which we put the goose gravy.” So I picked up the entire skin and took a small bite from it. I just have to stop!” And the hand keeps bringing more food to my mouth. Silkworth describes a spectrum of alcoholic types. Fat was spurting out between my lips. My hand has food. “I’ve got to stop. The food could be buttered popcorn or potato chips or ice cream or french fries. because the food we traditionally ate on Chanukah was very greasy. I blank out a bit here. but I remember suddenly realizing that I had the entire goose skin in my mouth and was chewing it frantically. I’ll have to get new clothes. but I love the taste of goose skin. I’m Jewish (but an agnostic. but I’m sure it was extremely rich. but on making it obvious and powerful. and we know that there’s a lot of research on why some people become binge-eaters. so I put a bit more into my mouth to find a weak spot. If I get any fatter. We can describe it. irritable and discontented. and going back and getting more food and putting more food in my mouth. I can’t eat a lot. Even though I was completely stuffed.their alcoholic life seems the only normal one.” Meanwhile my mind is saying to itself. or maybe it’s just holding the food itself. The ten or fifteen people who were at the dinner went into the living room. maybe my hand is holding a fork or a spoon with food. I can talk about myself in this connection. Does that ring a bell? You want so desperately to stop but you can’t. so I’ll just take a bite. My mother had cooked a goose. just around the corner from the kitchen. of OA. 5 . There will be differences—the foods and eating behaviors that cause my cravings may not be the ones that cause yours. I’ll bet you’ve had the same symptoms! First example: This is really virtually all my stories. They are restless. (Not that there really is goose gravy. and we don’t have it that often. which I’ll talk about when we get to Step Two). What “the phenomenon of craving” describes is an overpowering urge for more and more. The phenomenon of craving: What is this phenomenon of craving? A phenomenon is an unexplained occurrence. I did have all the reasons in the world to stop but I couldn’t. [which then develops] the phenomenon of craving. “Well. and then I swallowed the skin whole. The hand kept moving until there was nothing left. But if you’re a member. A goose is so fat that the skin just slips off. But the concept of the phenomenon of craving puts the emphasis not on explaining it. My cheeks were bulging. and that just keeps on going. I kept on chewing until all the fat was gone from the skin. ranging from the psychopath through to the manic depressive through to a person perfectly normal in all other respects. I just have to stop! Why can’t I stop? I’m at risk for diabetes and heart attack and high blood pressure. because it was burning the inside of my mouth. I’m already too fat. It could easily be called the Festival of Grease. And the best way is simply to tell those parts of my story that illustrate the phenomenon of craving. The phenomenon of craving is a craving that can’t be explained. In that way you can discover similarities. He says that their only “symptom in common [is that] they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. and one of our great celebration holidays is Chanukah. I’ll burst. There may be biological reasons for the craving. It was still very hot from the oven. It is something that happens for which we don’t have a clear explanation.) I don’t remember the dessert we had. My hand is coming to my mouth and putting the food in my mouth. Second example: This one involves a goose skin. We just don’t know why it happens. I went to the kitchen to get a diet drink (I’ve always loved that!) and I saw the goose carcass on the cutting board with the goose skin hanging on the carcass. I remember thinking to myself. If I eat any more. I was loaded to the gills after the meal—just packed. On page xxx in the 4th edition (xxviii 3rd edition). It just happens. Dr. or a prospective member.

both of whom can give up alcohol if there is a good reason. normal eaters stop eating when something happens that’s nauseating. But we can’t–we get the phenomenon of craving. or certain kinds of situations. There is a Solution. I don’t like that feeling. At one point or another they get unease or discomfort when they overeat. I turned my back on the man and continued to eat.Third example: This one involves a greasy spoon in Minneapolis. Questions: Here are some questions: · What are my stories of overeating? Do I have the equivalent of a gallon of icecream. Normal eaters stop when they’re full. Diets “give back” binge foods in moderation after the weight is lost. The Big Book begins to define the alcoholic to whom it is addressed in Chapter Two. on pages 20 to 24. Here is the question which might separate a compulsive eater from a normal eater: What would a normal eater do and what did I do? Yes. once he starts to drink” (page 21). The defining characteristic. The real question is whether they get the phenomenon of craving once they start. Notice how different this is from the conventional and perhaps medical definition of an addict. so I stop. There is another aspect That is the mental obsession. “but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption. even when normal eaters overeat. and his head dropped right into the plate. which was pretty grimy in those days. the next day they don’t eat a lot. or eating at times or in ways that normal people wouldn’t eat? Have I experienced times when no matter how great my desire. The real alcoholic can be either a moderate or a hard drinker. hacking and coughing. Summary: It is perfectly obvious that I react very differently than normal eaters. it says. I squeezed onto a stool at the counter and got my greasy meal and started to eat it. but not for people like us. I get that feeling with alcohol. This explains why some diets and some diet programs work for others. I can’t stop once I’ve started. where quantity–overindulgence–is the defining characteristic. or a goose skin. sometime in probably March 1962 or 1963. I can’t drink more than a glass and half of wine or beer (I don’t like liquor) before I get this feeling of having had enough. The real alcoholic is different. and the Big Book spends a lot of time discussing the mental obsession. so I went in. until there’s no more? Are there certain foods that I can’t imagine ever giving up for good? Are there any patterns in my overeating? Are there certain times of the day. They are not compulsive eaters—at least the way the Big Book defines it. I passed a greasy spoon that advertised a 39 cent breakfast with sausages and bacon. it’s time to abstain from those foods and eating behaviors that cause our craving. But now that we’ve discussed the phenomenon of craving. The Big Book clearly says that quantity is not the defining characteristic. I started to wander down Hennepin Avenue. I find it almost impossible to stop eating. Suddenly the man on my right vomited into his plate. And I don’t feel that way when I overeat. Many people can eat those binge foods in moderation. and their body basically tells them to stop. is at the very least the inability to stop once the indulgence begins. Compulsive overeaters or alcoholics might be able to limit their number of binges or even the quantities they consume. It was about 6 in the morning. It was packed with people who had clearly been up all night. the whole container of cookies. and contrasts them with the real alcoholic. There the Big Book discusses the moderate and the hard drinkers. This is the allergy of the body—the lack of control once the substance is taken into the body—the phenomenon of craving. I had just come off an overnight train ride and had a two-hour wait for a bus to go to my college south of Minneapolis. and then fainted. Alcoholics don’t feel that way when they drink. a huge bag of potato chips. in which I find that I can’t stop eating? · · · · 6 . I couldn’t stop eating? Are there certain foods that once I start eating.

but I realized as well that high-fat dairy products. Silkworth describes in the Big Book as an “allergy” of the body. What about us in OA? Is that OA’s message—that we stop compulsive eating. I can’t eat butter in any form before I start craving it. But for the compulsive eater. but I know people in this program who can’t touch it at all. (We also have to stop the eating behaviors that cause our cravings. that we can all differ in the kinds of substances that cause cravings for us. fatty meats (beef ribs and pork ribs and sausages and bacon). ice cream. blissing out? The answers were clear for me: buttered popcorn. like butter. and that I can eat everything that some people in OA can’t eat at all. So how do we go about it? Sure. eating incessantly. Dignity of Choice says. He says: “Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor”. it means simply an abnormal physical reaction to a physical substance. and my experience confirms. Allergy doesn’t mean a cough or a runny noise or a rash. You stop drinking. In my discussions with other OAers from all over the world.Step One. deep-fried foods in general but in particular fried chicken (especially the skin). So how do we identify what causes our cravings? I can only tell you what I have done. and the only way to stop the craving is to stop eating foods that cause our craving. You have to figure it for yourself. 2. And you work the steps. and I discuss that below. Clearly any food that I couldn’t stop eating when I started was a food that caused cravings. and work the steps? It should be. For example. The answer was obvious—fat. I’ve come to the conclusion that. I started by asking myself a simple question: What are the foods that I constantly overeat when I have the chance to eat them? What are the foods that I hunch over. All fats had such a huge effect on me. potato chips. Silkworth in The Doctor’s Opinion. it’s alcohol in any form— whether in beer or wine or liquor or liqueur.and phoning as many people as we can. The Big Book takes sobriety for granted. and what people I’ve discussed this with have done. I can put some jam on my toast and don’t get cravings. cheesecake. The Dignity of Choice makes this very clear—our plan of eating is an individual plan. shortbread. even if it means going to three or four meetings a day. and reading as much literature as we can). It was usually fat mixed with salt or fat mixed with sugar. We get cravings that we can’t explain. You do anything to stop drinking. But the essence of the cravings is that we simply cannot stop. 7 . doughnuts—and many other similar kinds of foods. hoarding. But I went further than that. I asked myself whether there was a common ingredient in those foods. Abstain from individual binge ingredients. in the rooms of OA there are people who can eat everything that I can’t eat. and we can’t stop eating. but we simply can’t stop. I had to eliminate those. A phenomenon is an occurrence for which there is no explanation. For the alcoholic. The topic of this chapter comes from Dr. just as we can’t stop breathing or blinking our eyes––we may be able to suspend our breathing or blinking temporarily. I seemed to overeat almost anything that was high in fat content. do anything to stop eating compulsively (even if means going to as many meetings as we can. whether the presence of that common ingredient seemed to be a problem for me in general. The allergy of the body we get when we overeat is the “phenomenon of craving”. No one attends AA thinking that he or she is going to continue drinking while working the steps.) Our Dignity of Choice pamphlet makes that perfectly clear. We have to stop our craving. it’s easier for an alcoholic to identify the substance that causes the allergy. This is the first part of Step One. But I know people in this program who can eat a pat or two of butter and don’t get cravings. were especially powerful for me. Abstain from individual binge foods. Our body is telling us to eat. 1. Part One— Allergy of the Body— Developing a Plan of Eating: In the last chapter I described the phenomenon of craving—what Dr. and if so. although there’s an awful lot of overlap in our binge foods.

I was clearly taking in too much food. This was before I discovered the notion of the allergy of the body. 3. a day at a time. Very sweet foods actually gave me a headache. was I indulging in that caused me to eat too much of healthy foods? I had a blinding flash of the obvious as I sat in my dentist’s chair having my third or fourth or fifth crown put onto teeth that I had worn down or broken by chewing on bones and other things. I felt that Step Twelve required me to carry the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps. I stopped eating between meals. That is. like pop or some kinds of desserts. Around this time I reread the OA Twelve and Twelve. I therefore developed a plan of eating that eliminated foods with high fat content. I had eliminated most sugars from my eating—other than those with high fat content—years before I began to analyze my cravings. In addition to eliminating all foods high in fat content. we can eat everything—so long as we eat in moderation! But what’s moderation to me once my allergy kicks in? It’s impossible! Once I started eating ice cream. even though it was much healthier food than it was before. I started to analyze my eating behaviors. But eventually I was able to stop chewing between meals entirely. I discussed this with my sponsor. It was hard work. I began to realize. What eating behaviors 8 . This was difficult for me. and eliminated all high-fat dairy products in particular. I remembered the time years before when I first joined OA and my plan of eating was so simple— three meals a day. convinced at that time that my only problem was quantities. chewing or sucking on the ends of my pens. I was freed from the obsession. I was constantly chewing. My biggest eating behavior was simply chewing. what almost all diets tell us. of course. so as soon as I lost that weight I took back a lot of foods I had eliminated. I was now chewing carrots and celery and gum and hot-air popcorn. spaghetti sauces with a little olive oil versus with no oil). whether baked or not). Sure. What I discovered in my analysis was that my constant chewing kept my mouth wanting to chew more. since I was still fat. but it was food that contained calories of some sort. That was a miracle. but I did it. I would not have a meal with a fat content higher than 10% of calories through fat. I was taking in too much food. keeping my mouth busy. I would examine content labels carefully for hidden fat content.) But after a number of months I hadn’t lost much weight. I found myself chewing ice in my drinks. It’s the second part of Step One. So I added another element to my plan of eating. and just as promised at Step 9 in the Big Book. and no snacks that contained a significant amount of fat (all potato chips. I couldn’t stop! One element of 3-0-1 clearly did work for me—and that was not eating between meals. constantly seeking oral gratification! I realized that while I had adopted a plan of eating that eliminated high fats. I was keeping my mouth busy—just as a popular weight-loss program used to tell me was necessary in order to keep eating other foods. Clearly I was eating more than my body needed. How could I carry that message if I wasn’t at a healthy body weight? I felt I couldn’t—I felt that I was missing something. nothing in between. Eliminating any chewing or sucking between meals kept me from craving that oral gratification I used to get. I was freed from my wish to eat all the foods that I had eliminated. playing with my toothpick. That meant I would have no deep-fried foods at all. Fat was clearly the culprit for me.Was sugar a problem for me? Well. that I wasn’t doing this time. I would choose the non-fat one (1% versus skim milk. At my mealtimes I was eating for the sake of chewing. it wasn’t high fat foods. Where I used to chew buttered popcorn. Abstain from individual binge eating behaviors. They tell us that once we lose the weight. I also worked the steps. like ice cream and buttered popcorn and deep-fried foods. I had recovered from compulsive eating! I could be around ice cream and not want it. (I’ll talk more about the obsession next chapter. I would not eat fatty meats. I did that. That did something for me. I would not eat any desserts and would have fruits instead. I just didn’t eat foods that were sweet but not fat. On pages two and three the book mentions not simply binge foods but also “eating behaviors”. That got me thinking. If given a choice between a food that had no fat and one that had even a little fat. I lost a lot of weight on that plan. So I didn’t include sugar in my list. I would trim all visible fats away from meat.

but in addition led to great quantities during my meals. of course). After 11 years of his being satisfied with my weight. I discovered that when I ate certain foods that were low in fat content I kept on eating them until they were all gone. There’s no magic to it. Quantities were clearly the issue for me. because that allowed me to relax. Sure. but I did want to be filled. It’s easy to relax. So I would eat huge quantities of healthy foods. my body has probably had enough. When I told some people I was a member of OA. I lost another six pounds. I would stop eating when I felt as if the food had reached my belly-button. 9 . I didn’t think I was eating any particular foods that created problems. If I’m thinking about things other than food. And in OA people treated me as a person who had recovered. I achieved a healthy body weight. And I’ve discovered the amazing fact that twenty minutes after I stop eating. But how would I determine what was “enough”? It occurred to me that I could use my belly-button as a guide. Over the past eleven years I’ve added more foods to my “don’t eat” list. I discovered that high-fibre cereals that had sugar added made me more hungry. Although I kept to my plan of eating. they wondered why. but stuffed. So I had every right to consider that my appearance was reasonable and healthy. I’ve never thought these differences were a big deal. and my weight has fluctuated but basically remained steady since I lost it. The lesson I take from this experience is that it’s important always to be honest and vigilant. I decided to continue on this journey. such as when I begin to wonder whether I’m full. for instance. and prefer to figure out what they CAN eat. So I added another element to my plan of eating. Whether we do that in a “negative” way. I’ve been stopping eating when I begin to think about things other than food. however. It’s important to be honest to see if that plateau is a reasonable plateau! 5. but a number of bingeing eating behaviors. And when I went back to see my doctor in January 2007 he said he wanted me to lose more weight. We eliminate foods and eating behaviors that cause cravings and. I would stop eating when I had eaten “enough”. in March 2005 my doctor told me that certain studies he had become aware of led him to think that I should be losing more weight. My doctor was finally happy. stopping when I felt full up to my belly-button— constituted my new plan of eating. In all cases they’ve had to analyze their own eating behaviors and their own binge foods and binge ingredients. so I eliminated them. not eating or chewing or sucking between meals. and not to relax in the program. we find ways to limit our intake of food in general. Some have been unable to figure out what they can’t eat. as 4. so they have counted calories or they have weighed and measured their foods (another way of counting calories. So I did another analysis of my eating behaviors and of foods. we lose a lot of weight and feel better. for hot-air popcorn and for certain kinds of rice cakes. That was about eleven years ago. So I looked at my eating again––but more importantly I also looked at my honesty by using Step 10. This had also led me to eating between meals. which was far better than when it reached almost up to the back of my mouth! Those three elements—eliminating the fats. I didn’t want to eat ice cream. instead of using my belly-button. I lost my weight. I’m really full! Go figure! So I lost ten pounds. Some have been unable to find their belly-buttons or to find other ways to limit their intake. This became true. Continue to be honest and careful. and then we reach a plateau. and they contained calories that kept my weight high. if we need to lose weight. What could I do to eat less? Well. Some have had very few binge foods. How did I know? My doctor was happy. Each time I did this it was easy. I also stopped looking at the scale. I’ve had many many discussions with people all over the world about plans of eating that work for them. so I eliminated them. and others have had the reverse. Each person finds his or her own way to find a plan of eating that works for him or her. I left something on my plate and didn’t go back for seconds. and as of the middle of 2007 I’ve lost another three or four pounds. The individual’s plan of eating.At the same time I also identified another eating behavior—this time a real blinding flash of the obvious: I liked to be stuffed to the gills! I wanted to be full all the time—not just pleasantly full. because I had already recovered and was working the steps to the best of my ability. and as soon as I adopted that plan of eating.

In all cases we must be rigorously honest. but high amounts aren’t. What I have noticed in OA is the prevalence of the “no sugar. by adopting a plan of eating that sets out what they CAN eat and how much of it and when they can. Some people jump very quickly to certain kinds of plans of eating because it seems to fit them. High-fiber grains are important to eat. If doughnuts or ice-cream are foods that cause cravings. It may simply be a quantity issue. though. or because the plans are urged on them by other people in the program for whom the plans work. It may. really be that you are holding on to foods that are causing you cravings. but either of those two ingredients may not be the real issue. Silkworth. by adopting a plan of eating that sets out what I CAN’T eat or do.I do. The sugars in fruits are part of a normal diet. or that works for someone else? Are there some foods that you keep eating in large quantities. · Questions: Here are some questions: · · Have you developed a plan of eating that eliminates foods that cause you cravings? Have you developed a plan of eating that eliminates eating behaviors that cause you cravings? Are you holding on to foods that you secretly crave because you can’t give them up? Have you adopted a plan of eating that works for you. do you have a plan of eating that allows you to eat foods that have high amounts of nonnutritious calories? A little bit of fat. If. M. I think what’s important is rigorous honesty. after having been abstinent for some time. All that is really needed is simple honesty. even if they’re allowed William D. is necessary in our diet. for instance. and you’re holding onto them because the plan of eating you chose for yourself (or someone else chose for you) didn’t eliminate that food. · · · 10 . but white sugar is of no value whatsoever. perhaps in combination with the sugar or the flour. or whether we do that in a “positive” way. those are only methods of achieving the eliminating of foods and eating behaviors that cause cravings.D. for instance. it might not be the sugar or the flour and sugar in them—it might be the fat in them. no flour” plan of eating. have you eliminated sugar and flour but still eat lots of high-fat foods · If bread is a problem for you. but white flour is of very little value. is it really what you put on top of the bread—like butter or peanut butter or margarine or jam or honey—rather than the bread itself? In the end. however. on your plan of eating? For instance. you are still heavier than your body should be. as others do. or maybe—just maybe!— because the plans allow them to hold onto certain foods which are really binge foods for them. if you have to lose weight. then you owe it to yourself to examine your plan of eating. When it comes to honesty. I am certain that eliminating sugar and eliminating refined flour is quite healthy.

as the infomercials say. We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink. which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop. But if I developed an allergy to shrimp. is that we keep finding excuses to go back to those foods and those eating behaviors: Why does he behave like this? If hundreds of experiences have shown him that one drink means another debacle with all its attendant suffering and humiliation. We are not sure why. I bet you can add to it! · · I’m standing up. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly confirm this. we get when we eat certain foods or indulge in certain eating behaviors. And then the weekly scoop becomes bigger. Why would I eat anything that killed me?” Yet before OA I ate all kinds of food that I knew perfectly well were killing me! Our real problem. It doesn’t count! I’ve been very good for a year. and many many doctors and dietitians and nutritionists whom we consult. little can be done for him. (pages 22-3 of the Big Book) Why do we keep going back? What gets us to eat the first bite? Well. that’s what we did when we went on diets. he reacts much like other men. A week. These observations would be academic and pointless if our friend never took the first drink. all seem to say that once we have lost our weight we can go back to eating ALL the foods we used to eat. or other healthcare professionals. once a certain point is reached. this mental obsession is our real problem. Part Two—the Obsession of the Mind: In the last chapter I discussed the first part of Step One from the Big Book perspective—the allergy of the body. They simply don’t understand our allergy of the body. but this time in moderation! It’s just a matter of will power. the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind. But wait. or two cookies. as he may do for months or years. or maybe they phrase it as won’t power. when you think about it: just don’t eat those foods or indulge in those eating behaviors. rather than in his body. We cannot answer the riddle. there’s more! Here’s my list. We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system. In that chapter I especially emphasized what the Big Book takes for granted—that we find a plan of eating that eliminates those foods and/or eating behaviors which cause our cravings—that we become. thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. 11 . and the weight-loss programs. but I sure don’t like it now. I would avoid it like the plague. something happens. A month. in a word. If our only problem were that we get physical cravings that overwhelm us is. I think I would look at shrimp as a poison. both in the bodily and mental sense. So. everything would be fine. one thing that’s obvious is that virtually every diet and every book on losing weight. as many people have. there would be a simple solution. the diets in magazines and books. I eat shrimp and enjoy it. Now it’s time to talk about the second part of Step One—the obsession of the mind. and then becomes more frequent. abstinent. An hour. Consider this: right now. and then becomes the hand going to the mouth and we’re asking ourselves why we can’t stop. What is their problem? They don’t understand that we have a physical problem. or comfort food. we crave more. I would say to myself. As the Big Book points out. the phenomenon of craving. “Well I used to like it. as the Big Book points out. we lose our weight and then take back our weekly scoop of ice cream.Step One. why is it he takes that one drink? Why can't he stay on the water wagon? What has become of the common sense and will power that he still sometimes displays with respect to other matters? Perhaps there never will be a full answer to these questions. They don’t understand that. unlike the normal eater. Therefore. on the advice of our doctors. In effect. we don’t get unease or discomfort when we overeat—rather. Opinions vary considerably as to why the alcoholic reacts differently from normal people. and I would suffer a tremendous shock to my system that could kill me. They can’t imagine why we would eat in large quantities again.

It doesn’t do us any good to figure out what was eating us. Next day we would ask ourselves. . as the Big Book points out. how it could have happened. . we can’t eat without developing cravings. anger. What will make me feel better? I’m so happy! How can I celebrate? They made it especially for me. The whole of the chapter More About Alcoholism (beginning on page 30) describes the mental obsession. How can I refuse? I’ll never be able to have this food again. and thinks that a long period of sobriety enables him to drink like normal people. There was always the curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink. of new flavor of ice cream. Too many people love me. not simply an emotional one. The Big Book doesn’t use the word “emotional” to describe our problem. Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. What does us good is to realize that we keep finding excuses to go back to foods that we know. someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. emotional. (Page 30) In that chapter the Big Book describes four addicts who return to their addiction. Certainly some of these are emotional excuses. It’s a stone ground whole-grain cinnamon bun made with organic molasses and cold-pressed organic oil! So it’s really good for me and doesn’t count! She’s not looking. the last french fry . and persuades himself that whiskey won’t hurt him if taken with milk. in all earnestness and sincerity. feeling ourselves justified by nervousness. But some of them are just plain stupid ones. depression. One of them has not had a drink for 25 years. “We cannot answer the riddle. One of them keeps going back to jaywalking even though he has suffered tremendous physical damage. . One of them has a bad day. and find ourselves eating that sample before we even know what we’re doing. No one loves me. The insane idea won out. I have to taste it in order to see whether it’s okay. so it doesn’t count. not simply emotional The Big Book describes them as a mental obsession. and spiritual. have lost a lot of weight by eliminating ice cream from our diet. There is no answer. jealousy or the like. It uses the word “mental”. We often hear in OA that our problem is physical. and finds himself thinking that it would be nice to have cocktails with his dinner. and can’t explain himself at all. My spouse will not feel guilty when I die. It is that excuse we give to ourselves for going back. I’m so depressed. This is the real problem.· · · · · · I didn’t eat the bun . That’s because our reasons for returning to the food are often just insane. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. We could have had a normal day. It is the same obsession whatever we’re addicted to—whether gambling or alcohol or cocaine or food or emotions. and be in a supermarket where they’re offering a sample 12 . In some circumstances we have gone out deliberately to get drunk. deep in our hearts. . but it’s a nice way to commit suicide. The idea that somehow. and sometimes don’t depend on how we’re feeling at all. And one of them has a great day. It is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people.” We just know that we do it. But even in this type of beginning we are obliged to admit that our justifica- · · · · · · · Ring some bells? So what are these curious excuses? Mental. worry. Overeating will kill me. How will I fit in otherwise? At least people can see what my weakness is. the second helping.

We have what Dr. Note that Step One as written on the wall is not “We admitted that we were powerless over food AND that our life had become unmanageable. “That looks good. This is the allergy of the body. . .” And then the second thought just overpowers the first. and the bad thought just overpowers the good thought.” The “bad” thought is. but because of our mental obsession.tion for a spree was insanely insufficient in the light of what always happened. Maybe now we will be ready for Step Two. come on. instead of casually. But we’ve also had trivial excuses.” But I’ll simultaneously have other thoughts like. This is the obsession of the mind. says the Big Book. · · · · · The Double Whammy: The first part of our addiction is that we are powerless over food—we get uncontrollable physical cravings when we eat certain foods or indulge in certain eating behaviors.” Then suddenly a click occurs. I’ve become a yo-yo dieter. then Step Two is the solution of power! Questions: Here are questions for you: · What excuses have you used to go back to compulsive eating? Have any of your reasons for going back to compulsive eating ever ever ever turned out to be reasonable? Have you ever gone back to compulsive eating before you even realized you were doing it? Does your experience show that you have been capable.” That means that we have to admit that or life had become unmanageable in relation to our powerlessness over food. I won’t eat it. but I can’t eat it. The second part is that we can’t manage our lives in relation to our powerlessness over food—we get mental obsessions that send us back to those foods and those eating behaviors that we know will cause us the uncontrollable cravings. it’ll make me fat. on your own. I’m doing so well on my diet. I would have left the program. And we begin to realize that the only solution that will ever work with us is something that gets rid of our mental obsession. because we can’t stop the thinking that keeps sending us back. “I can’t eat this stuff. It’s okay. just like the proverbial good and bad angels perched on our two shoulders. An obsession is a thought that overpowers all other thought. We now see that when we began to drink deliberately. I won’t eat it. or have you had trivial excuses as well? Are you now convinced that in yourself there is no solution to the double whammy? This is crucial. Do you still think there’s a chance? Or do you know that you are doomed? The Mental Obsession: The Big Book’s characterization of this is as a mental obsession. That is Step One—the realization that we are doomed. My life was fine (or apparently fine) except for the food. I can be on a diet and have thoughts like. Silkworth called the “double whammy”. You try it. And we’re not doomed because of our allergy of the body. because . and we can’t stop from starting again. (Page 37) Yes. It is an obsession over which we have no mental defence. But Step One doesn’t require us to accept anything but our powerlessness over food! 13 . [fill in the rationalization!].000. you can have just one. The “good” thought is. We can’t stop ourselves from thinking. “It’s only a bit. there was little serious or effective thought during the period of premeditation of what the terrific [horrible] consequences might be. We can’t stop once we’ve started. and I’m back again. If someone had tried to convince me when I joined the program that my whole life was unmanageable. sometimes we have felt justified by extreme emotions. We have two lines of thought running parallel to each other. I want to be thin. We’re doomed. “Ah. We can’t control our thinking. of ultimately resisting an excuse to go back to compulsive eating? Does your experience show that you have returned to compulsive eating only because you’ve felt emotionally justified. It’s not good for me. If Step One is the problem of powerlessness.00 if you don’t think of the word “rhinoceros” for 20 seconds! Did you win the bet? I doubt it. And we can’t control the mental obsession. you’ve never had that taste before. And we know we can’t do it by ourselves. I’ll pay you $5.” It’s “We admitted that we were powerless over food––that our life had become unmanageable. and we begin again. That fits my experience well.

then. but are now different as a result of the Twelve Steps. and of not being able to stop from starting again (the mental obsession). he had admitted complete defeat.Step Two: In Step One we found complete despair— powerlessness. 1 The religious person will someday in sponsoring meet someone like me. He said. and AA. who was sober. (pages 11 and 12) Here is the point at which we see the value that all of our past experience is able to bring to the compulsive eater who still suffers. (Note that we don’t "take" Step One. Although he was part of an evangelical Christian movement (the Oxford Groups). If it is clear that we used to be like the person who still suffers. Therefore most of today’s share will concentrate on reasons why a person who does not believe in God would want to find a Higher Power through the Twelve Steps. and OA and all other Twelve Step programs. and this was none at all. It is rather that we acknowledge our powerlessness." Those who have read "Bill’s Story" will recall that in his worst moment of despair—after Dr. He was an agnostic. Then he had. We need to have constant sanity to be able to say. He shouted great tidings. He could not believe in the God of religion. There is no concept in the Big Book that we "take" it or "do" it. in effect. It is designed to give the still-suffering alcoholic reasons to be willing. Because we have this mental obsession. Silkworth 14 . here sat a miracle directly across the kitchen table. would a person who believes in God be interested in this discussion? There are two reasons. 2 In the following discussion. We cannot solve the problem of our compulsive eating by ourselves. Why. I take for granted that we have accepted our powerlessness over food— that Step One for us is a reality. But how could Bill have that miracle if he did not believe in God? Ebby then gave Bill. This hit Bill hard. "Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?" (page 12) That was enough for Bill to work on. and he or she should know the arguments to help someone like me. The Big Book discusses Step Two in part of "Bill’s Story" and in the whole of "We Agnostics". Never mind the musty past. "I don’t want to eat foods or indulge in eating behaviors that cause me uncontrollable cravings. been raised from the dead. and of course it fails in that respect. a great gift. he didn’t try to persuade Bill to believe in any kind of God. suddenly taken from the scrap heap to a level of life better than the best he had ever known! Had this power originated in him? Obviously it had not. Ebby told him that he had found religion. I misread it for years. It is NOT designed to prove the existence of God. we accept our powerlessness. What was Bill to do? He saw in his friend a real miracle: Like myself. Most of the discussion of Step Two in the Big Book is aimed at persons who do not believe in a personal god—agnostics (who have come to the conclusion that they will never know whether there is a God or not) or atheists (who believe there is no God). Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. There is an extremely important page of the Big Book which the person who believes in God but who is still suffering from compulsive eating ought to understand—if he or she is to recover! tells him about the double whammy and he experiences the truth of it and the hopelessness of his situation—he was visited by his friend Ebby. and that when Bill asked him how he had become sober. we are insane. Step Two is the solution. In Step Two we will find hope—power. A power greater than ourselves will restore us to sanity. something he had rejected for many years. There had been no more power in him than there was in me at the minute.) We understand the "double whammy" of not being able to stop when we start (the physical allergy)." This theme is expanded in the chapter "We Agnostics". then we fill the prospect with both despair (Step One–– s/he can’t do it on his/her own) and hope (Step Two––it can be done!). Step One is the problem. and realize that there is no hope for us on our own. "It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. I thought it was designed to prove the existence of God.

actually worships things—like love or money—that can’t be justified using logic. In one form or another we had been living by faith and little else" (page 54). We found the Great Reality deep down within us. Clearly that theory works. It’s your own conception that’s important. He was as much a fact as we were. First reason (pages 48 to the top of 51): Scientifically speaking. we are doomed unless we find a Power greater than ourselves. poses the essential dilemma facing a person who does not believe in God. And don’t worry. The atheist or agnostic believes in his or her own reasoning. But—and this is what is so important EVEN for the person who believes in God—that Higher Power is "obscured by calamity. and by worship of other things. from page 44 to page 48.48: Because we cannot recover on our own. from page 48 to page 54.) I’ll summarize each section. and child. but the theories work for us. Here are the three reasons the agnostic or atheist should be willing to try what this book offers. little progress was made in navigation. and in that is the fundamental idea of God. But that’s a real problem for people who don’t believe in God. he or she DOES believe in things that are in fact more powerful than he or she is. Our theory is that a Higher Power can restore us to sanity. by pomp. or worship. Third section–deep down within us is our fundamental conception of a Higher Power: Pages 54 . (There is also a fourth anecdotal section from page 55 to page 57 providing experiential testimony. by worship of other things. a theory that’s grounded in fact—that works—is worth trying out. Don’t be prejudiced by the words we use in this book to describe a Higher Power. The first section. Put in other words. We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up. our Higher Power is blocked by bad things that have happened to us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. All of us believe in theories about electricity even though we’ve never seen the atoms upon which that theory is based.55: Faith is part of our makeup. Until someone was willing to try out the idea that the earth was round or that the earth circled the sun. So the atheist or the agnostic DOES believe in something that he or she can’t touch or see and can’t prove. or love. Actually we were fooling ourselves. for deep down in every man. flying machine could be built. by a sense of self-importance. pomp. but He was there. You only have to be WILLING to believe. As a matter of fact. and therefore we believe them. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly.Outline of We Agnostics: The chapter is divided into three major sections. gives the reality of fundamental belief and is the section of extreme importance to the believer as well as to the non-believer. but in some form or other it is there. is the fundamental idea of God.54. Our idea that we need a Higher Power does work. it was not built. Second section–the reasons: Pages 48 . (page 55) So ultimately we will find a Higher Power "deep down within us". presents three powerful arguments on why one should be willing to find a Higher Power. About half of us were like that. woman. The idea of the agnostic or atheist that he or she can handle his or her own addiction doesn’t work. You don’t HAVE to believe in a Higher Power in order to work the Steps. The third section. until someone was willing to try out the idea that a heavier-than-air 15 . the things the atheist or the agnostic worships are what give him or her the essence of his or her life. "It was impossible to say we had no capacity for faith. just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. This book is all about finding that Higher Power. Therefore the agnostic or atheist should try it! Third reason (pages 53 to the bottom of 54): Regardless of the protestations of the atheist or agnostic. by worship of other things" (page 55). So why not TRY the idea that this program will give you a sense of a higher power? It can’t hurt! First section–the dilemma: Pages 44 . from page 54 to page 55. It may be obscured by calamity. The second section. It was so with us. Therefore the agnostic or atheist should try it! Second reason (pages 51 to the bottom of 53): No real progress is ever made in this world unless we challenge established ideas that don’t work and become willing to try new ideas that might work.

or Beauty. then I have had a spiritual awakening. it talks about achieving recovery “in a few months”. or simply Intuitively Doing the Right Thing. A Higher Power gives us direction. Being Part of the World. “pushes” us from behind to go to a particular direction. See the fascinating lengthy article by Michael StGeorge currently (2007) available at http://www. We will see in the discussion of Step Four that the Big Book talks about being “blocked” (page 71) from the “sunlight of the spirit” (page 66).com/fitquotation/. Out of the 360 degrees on the compass. the Big Book would contain that explanation.The Steps unblock us from our Higher Power: Here is the essence of what the Twelve Steps do for us! The Steps REMOVE the things that BLOCK us from the Higher Power deep down within us! As soon as the block is removed. And as soon as we have contact with that Higher Power. Being Useful. That person will usually come up with LOVE at the very least—"Who of us had not loved something or somebody?" (page 54) They may come up with high ideals. we can see that our fundamental idea of a Higher Power is really the concepts or the ideals which give us whatever motivation in life we have. in 1941. The only solution we know is to get rid of the blocks. The image that makes sense to me is that of a compass. or Not Doing Harm. which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation. “a profound alteration in his reaction to life”. we have contact with that Higher Power. religious people. like Truth. It was put there to make it clear that a sudden spiritual epiphany was not the norm for AAers when they did the steps. it provides a completely non-religious and in a real sense a non-spiritual definition of spiritual experience or spiritual awakening––a ”personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism”. it contains that wonderful quote attributed to Herbert Spencer: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information. “pulls” us in a particular direction. we become sane. but that we wish we could attain? If we use the Big Book’s image of blocking the Higher Power which is "deep down within us". it really makes no difference. after the first 5. The Appendix is important for three other reasons. it appears that Herbert Spencer didn’t say this. a compass point—a place to go towards. and later on. What was usual was a gradual spiritual awakening.000 copies had been distributed. as I did when asked that question. 16 . and give it a personality and various attributes. This opens up the program for people who have no sense of a God at all. That God. I don’t have to argue with anybody at all about whether or not I’ve accepted “God” in my life. which should give a real ray of hope. Some people don’t. For the purposes of the Twelve Steps. call that God. It was written by a minister named William Paley. Being Serene. So Bill Wilson made certain that when it came time to reprint the Big Book. If I have received a personality change that has been sufficient to overcome my compulsive overeating. Some people. That God. Or they may come up with Doing Good.geocities.” Actually. it is clear that we have blocked off our route to sanity. Third. therefore. A Higher Power consisting of values gives us direction by being a beacon. Second. And becoming sane means that we no longer want to return to the foods and eating behaviors that create uncontrollable cravings. First. in effect. perhaps through our holy scriptures or through a revelation or through meditation or through “signs”––things that happens to us that have meaning for us. What to say to the person who doesn’t believe in God: The question to ask. So whether we believe in God or don’t believe in God. if we are not sane when it comes to food. The Appendix on Spiritual Experience was placed into the second printing of the Big Book. To do that we work the Twelve Steps. A personal God gives us direction by telling us what to do. in effect. Which of us can’t come up with a list of one or two or three things that motivate us. or Justice. a North Pole. things that we may have trouble attaining. of people who don’t believe in God is what concepts or ideas or feelings they DO believe in that are more important than they are: What gives them any meaning at all in their lives? Any person desperate enough to come to OA and who is relatively honest will be able to answer that question at least in part.

yet who went back to alcoholism as soon as he left. which used a few simple actions to gain a spiritual experience. Jung told him his condition was hopeless unless he could find a spiritual experience. although the spiritual basis and the ideas behind it have not been questioned. can be slow. Jung’s concept was that alcoholism is the low-level thirst for spirituality–– equal to our OA low-level hunger for spirituality––and that what AA (and OA) provides is real spirituality through the support of a like-minded community and actions which bring us closer to our spiritual for a scholarly attempt to figure out when Rowland consulted with Dr. there is also the wonderful and calming option of their being able to choose the "best part" of their God—by focusing on the love and the understanding and the compassion that is at the very least PART of their religious upbringing without having to embrace the WHOLE of the god of their religion. however we have conceived It. Or they will simply acknowledge that their religious activity has become mechanical and not meaningful to them. but simply being religious wasn’t enough. Dr. contains a summary of the issues relating to the allergy of the body and the obsession of the mind. The Language of the Heart––a collection of Bill’s writings in the AA Grapevine. There is a Solution. The Appendix on Spiritual Experience makes that very clear. and that Higher Power will enter into our lives and give us sanity. They will intuitively understand the notion of being blocked from God. One religious person I spoke to talked about being “functionally agnostic” before he worked the steps—although he believed in God. Dr. As one of them put it.there is the one degree direction of Truth. who then brought it to Bill Wilson. The Steps provide us with a Higher Power: What the Big Book actually promises is that working the Twelve Steps will remove the blocks that keep us from our Higher Power. who had consulted with the great psychoanalyst Dr. But I have recovered in this program. see www. And it is characterized by “a personality change sufficient to overcome alcoholism”. Bill adapted those steps to create the Twelve Steps. I began this program almost twenty years ago as an agnostic. Jung. He brought his message to Ebby Thacher. I am still an agnostic. will answer Yes. I can only say this as personal testimony. and not sudden. Just before Dr. Some doubt has been placed on the accuracy of the Big Book’s account of Rowland’s contact with Dr. you get honest with yourself (Step Four). and not one of those paths has ever worked! What to say to the person who does believe in God: The question to ask of those who do believe in God is. A spiritual experience. he didn’t act according to his beliefs. Bill wrote him a lengthy letter thanking him for the role he played in developing AA. That made sense to me. The only promise is that we will have sanity––that we will feel a strength and power that we know did not exist in us when we were trying to deal with our problems on our own. a very skeptical agnostic. He had a spiritual experience and stopped drinking. Carl Jung for some time. the Appendix says.stellarfire. "Do you accept that something is blocking you off from your God?" Most people asked that question Chapter Two. Justice. you trust in God (Step Eleven). we find that automatically (guaranteed by end of Step Nine!) we become sane in relation to food. Roland found the Oxford Groups. Love. you make up for what you’ve done wrong (Step Nine). and you help others (Step Twelve). Jung died. That’s all. Jung and what really influenced Rowland to pursue the Oxford Groups. The other 359 degrees consist of Lawrie’s way. a day at a time: I am sane about foods and eating behaviors that cause me uncontrollable 17 . an awakening. Dr. For those who have rejected their childhood religion because of various issues. Both of those letters can be found in the great AA publication. There’s no promise that we will believe in the God of a religion at all. Our willingness is enough to start the process of working the Twelve Steps. Jung wrote a brilliant letter back. Step Two only requires that we be willing to try to find our Higher Power. you get honest with another human being (Step Five). and Beauty. without any effort on our part in dealing with food (see the Hidden Promises at the bottom of page 84 and top of page 85)! For agnostics and atheists. When we work the Twelve Steps. It is well worth reading! It also contains the wonderful story at pages 26 through 28 of “a certain American businessman” (Rowland [or Roland] Hazard). They will talk about the scars of their lives and think that their God has punished them. They will talk about their religious schooling or upbringing that caused them not to love their God but to fear Him.

that IS a spiritual awakening! Certainly. don’t despair at all! Just do the steps! The Big Book guarantees that if you do the steps. Questions: So. by the end of Step Nine you will have a personality change sufficient to overcome compulsive eating—and in the words of the Big Book. some questions: • Do you accept that on your own you are powerless over those foods and eating behaviors that cause you uncontrollable cravings? Is what you’re doing about your powerlessness working? Do you accept that there are those people who have been as powerless as you who are full of a power that has overcome their powerlessness? Are you willing to do what those people say gave them power? If you don’t believe in God. If you believe in God. is there anything you believe in that is more important than you are? If so. There is a Solution. So to all of you who are atheists and agnostics. we don’t take Step Two at all. 1952 • • Step Two is not a huge step to take the Big Book way. It is simply a sense of what a Higher Power could be.craving. • • • • 18 . Aside from setting out a number 2 step on page 59. Therefore I have achieved a spiritual awakening as promised by the Steps. As a matter of fact. and those believers end up affirming their faith in deep and ultimately mystical ways. SOBER: Bill Wilson in his kitchen. what? Call that God. There is simply the discussion of being open to finding a higher power as set out in three chapters in the Big Book––Bill’s Story. it will be a miracle! And for believers. my experience with countless other believers in OA is that the Steps remove the blockage between them and their God. and I will continue to have that spiritual awakening so long as I continue to work the Steps and maintain a fit spiritual condition. and a willingness to work the steps of the program in order to see if such a Higher Power can be found. if you’re like me. do you feel cut off —blocked—from God? Are you ready to go forward? AA WORLD SERVICES. INC. the Big Book never mentions Step Two as a step. and We Agnostics.

We made restitution to all those we had harmed by our drinking. As you may know. you can find one source in the Big Book on page 292 of the third edition or page 263 of the fourth edition. We admitted we were powerless over food. but what we do is not that complicated or time-consuming. but that the step itself is a relatively simple step.] 6. That’s important to know because the six steps that he added are clearly not steps which have the same kind of significance as the original six steps. 11. which have been adapted for OA. We will find that this section contains extremely important information. and that if we don’t suddenly find ourselves actually turning our will and our life over to the care of our god. The original steps: Originally AA had six steps and not twelve. considered it necessary to make certain that he provided more detail for the steps than existed previously. We made a moral inventory of our defects or sins. that our lives had become unmanageable. [Complete deflation. From a Big Book point of view. . in [brackets].] 10. to ourselves. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. The Big Book promises that we will have our will and our life turned over to the care of our god by Step Nine. who basically wrote the Big Book. it’s important to discuss the first two and half pages of Chapter Five (“How It Works”)—pages 58 to 60. Bill Wilson. Admitted to God. Step Three is simply a decision to go on with the steps. 3. underlined. There are many sources for this statement (see AA Comes of Age and The Language of the Heart. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. I’ve put the original six steps (as found first in the Big Book on the pages above. Page 58 stresses “rigorous honesty”. We admitted that we were licked.] 5. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. that doesn’t appear to be the case at all. There appears to be an interpretation of OA’s Twelve and Twelve which gives the impression that Step Three is a step we can’t take until we’re really really really ready.Step Three: Step Three is discussed in the Big Book from the bottom of page 60 to the bottom of page 63. the Big Book was written as a do-it-yourself manual for people who were not able to have contact with AA members who had recovered. Before we start discussing Step Three. Here are the twelve steps of Overeaters Anonymous. Made a list of all persons we had harmed. and became willing to make amends to them all. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him. He therefore added what turned out to be six more steps. and then in italics from AA Comes of Age on page 160): 1. that we were powerless over alcohol. [Confession. and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Page 59 to the top of page 60 sets out the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. however.] 2. [Moral inventory. we haven’t completed Step Three. except when to do so would injure them or others. It is the first step in which we actually DO something. Continued to take personal inventory and when were wrong promptly admitted it. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. [Restitution. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible. Immediately after six of them. praying only for 4. 8. We confessed or shared our shortcomings with another person in confidence. with only two changes (in Steps One—what we’re powerless over—and Twelve—to whom we try to carry the message). 19 9. It also asks us if we are committed “to go to any lengths” to find recovery. both available from AA). It points out that the only thing that stands in the way of recovery is a lack of the ability to be honest with one’s self.

The Big Book discusses what it considers the universal characteristic of the alcoholic/compulsive eater. It’s just a decision to do that. Five. and I want them to be happy in their lives purely because I love them. The other steps were put in in order to make certain that there were no loopholes. that was at the heart of my problems! The Big Book uses a number of words to describe that universal characteristic: self-willed. fearful.] 12. My children are adults now. and to practice these principles in all our affairs. the motivation of wanting life to go your way is irrelevant. I want people to like me so I can feel good about myself. this involves a discussion of “selfishness” from the Big Book perspective. The second part (bottom of page 63 to top of page 64) discusses the LIFE part of “turning our willing and our life over”. self-seeker. Sometimes the motives can be quite outer-directed. The second is tell us WHAT we have to do in order to make that decision. Of course I wanted to be in charge! And it was the fact that I wasn’t in charge. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps. but if I don’t actually sit down at my computer and write it. who knows the play would go much better if his or her way were adopted. I remember where I was sitting (in a small basement restaurant) when my first sponsor pointed those words out. I don’t suffer from the effects of poverty or torture or suppression or imminent disease or death. It is simply an acknowledgement of the consequences of the willingness through hope that we developed in Step Two. Certainly I have my own convictions of how the world could be a better place and people could get along better. and my motives are really quite good in that respect. self-propulsion. that the play wasn’t going my way. The first part (bottom of page 60 through bottom of page 63) discusses the WILL part of “turning our will and our life over to the care of” our Higher Power. We’ll see the complete truth of this statement when we discuss Step Four next chapter. I believe there are two main purposes of that discussion. So from the perspective of the Big Book. and then send it to the list. my decision to write is of no value whatsoever. These words are all used to describe a person who basically wants life to go his or her way. and Twelve. The pages discussing the WHY are divided into two parts. Sometimes. manager. [Continued work with other alcoholics. We prayed to whatever God we thought there was for power to practice these precepts. We tried to help other alcoholics. selfish. self-pitying. The discussion preceding Step Three: So what of the discussion on pages 60 through 64 about Step Three? Why is it there? 20 . Eleven. self-centered. So my decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of my Higher Power is simply a decision. however. They were not and are still not the essence of the program. It uses as an example the actor in a play who wants to be the director/producer of the play. with no thought of reward in money or prestige. I have to get rid of the things in myself that are blocking me from my Higher Power. then you have to make a decision to work the steps. I want people to give me business to keep Step Three is merely a decision to do the rest of the steps: Step Three is therefore not a huge step that requires lots of time and action. It’s not actually turning my will and my life over. we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters. self-deluding. Four. I could decide to write an article on Step Three for this list. And that really is all Step Three is—a decision. regardless of the motivation. They struck me right to the heart. The first is to explain WHY we have to make the decision to turn our will and our life over.knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. the motives can be quite inner-directed—or selfish in the dictionary definition. this involves setting out the words of the Step Three prayer. [Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power. self-centered. If you are willing to try to find a Higher Power through the steps (Step Two). In order to turn my will and my life over.] So you can see that the original six steps were basically Steps One. We’ll see how this plays out as we go. egocentric. Nine. yet I would like to have a world in which other people don’t suffer from that either.

me financially secure. and that abuse still hurts me. AS we enjoyed peace of mind. tomorrow or the hereafter. This broader approach will become extremely important when we discuss Step Four and ask where we have been selfish in relation to other people. we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. They arise out of ourselves. Sometimes I just gave up and played the martyr. 21 . And sometimes there’s a mix of motives. I therefore understand wanting to be the director of the play rather than the actor. AS we felt new power flow in. If I live my life believing that nothing good has happened to me. we think. more generic. I’ll emphasize the conditional and forward-looking parts of these promises: When we SINCERELY took such a position. then I can finally live life as it should be lived! The Big Book’s special definition of selfish: The Big Book says at page 62: Selfishness . I don’t want close relatives to get very sick both because I don’t want them to suffer AND because I don’t want the inconvenience of having to take care of them. Sometimes I tried to impose my will on others. self-seeking. Driven by a hundred forms of fear. IF we kept close to Him and performed His work well. even if the abuser is dead. I want life to go my way rather than the way it is going. Established on such a footing we BECAME less and less interested in ourselves. and self-pity. and block myself off from my Higher Power. seemingly without provocation. we BEGAN to lose our fear of today. I’ve been taught that this is not the case. all sorts of remarkable things followed. no one can say (and certainly the Big Book wouldn’t say) that I somehow deserved the abuse. We must. are basically of our own making. AS we discovered we could face life successfully. or it kills us! This notion of selfishness—wanting my way—is at the heart of the Big Book’s approach to the steps. We were reborn. but I know that’s not the case. period––not only for my own comfort or convenience. On page 62. He provided what we needed. And that was killing me! The Promises of the program: At the top of page 63 the Big Book has some promises. and perhaps even for the best of motives. and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot. We had a new Employer. way—as “wanting my way”. It makes a lot of sense to me. we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. however. I didn’t want them to embarrass me by bad behavior. selfdelusion. If I can find a way to give up my wish to have life go my way. discusses selfishness in a broader. but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. More and more we BECAME interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. and some people interpret those promises as being the promises of Step Three. But in all cases I KNEW the right way.the Big Book says: Sometimes they hurt us. If I were abused as a child. is the root of our troubles. I don’t want there to be bombs both because I don’t want innocent people to suffer AND because I don’t want to die. our little plans and designs. and it wasn’t happening. we think. but if I’m grown up now.self-centeredness! That. Being all powerful. then I will live my life in unhappiness. I wanted girlfriends (I’m happily married now!) to satisfy physical and social desires. But whatever the motives. AS we became conscious of His presence. though he usually doesn't think so. The Big Book. when my kids were young. Let’s read those promises carefully. Above everything. and continue to be a compulsive eater. Selfishness according to the dictionary is “wanting my way for my own comfort or convenience”. then I have indeed “sometime in the past made decisions based self which later placed [me] in a position to be hurt”! I think that’s all the Big Book is saying. This is a sentence which can easily be misinterpreted as somehow saying that we have brought on or are somehow responsible for our own misfortunes. So our troubles.

We can’t do that job until we have worked the steps and recovered. an effect. but so that those things will help us benefit OTHERS. it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face. We therefore don’t have to wait to see if our will and our lives have ACTUALLY been turned over to God—we’ve only DECIDED to do that.”) Another way of proving that these are the promises of the whole program is to show that the only real promise that’s made about Step Three is found at the bottom of page 63: “This was only a beginning. sometimes a very great one. I think we can see that Step Three is a vital and important step. and Thy Way of life.These are really the promises of the whole program. we have to do Steps Four through Nine. not of Step Three. So that’s it! That’s Step Three. To do that. Remember that I can make a decision to travel. was felt at once. and the promises of Step Nine will show us that by that time our will and our life will have been turned over to our Higher Power! Questions: Here are some questions: · If you look at your frustrations and feelings about the past. wanting our way regardless of the motives—and make a decision (in effect. we simply have to make a decision. Relieve me of the bondage of self. Thy Love.” We have to take action. May I do Thy will always! · · 22 . do you see how they arose because things just didn’t happen your way? Do you see yourself as the actor who wants to be the director/producer? Can you think of situations when you wanted things to go your way for the best of motives? How did you feel when they didn’t go your way? And how do you feel now about those things? Are they settled now? Are you serene about them? Or do they still bother you in some way? Taking Step Three: So let’s say the Step Three prayer. and that action will be cleaning house—Steps Four through Nine. but that it’s not a step that we spend a lot of time on. the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Cleaning house will remove those things that block us from our Higher Power. The Big Book says that the language is optional so long as the idea is expressed. and that it is “very desirable” to say that prayer “with an understanding person”. I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.” We’re promised an effect of some kind. We want certain things to happen to us—relief from the bondage of self. therefore. See page 102 for our job description: “Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others”. We don’t have to be really really really ready. and to be rid of. We don’t get our job description until we have recovered. look at the top of page 64: “Though our decision was a vital and crucial step. that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power. The Big Book makes that clear on page 164: “But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven't got. though if honestly and humbly made. (Note that we have a new employer. They are conditional on doing the steps. Our job is to unblock the channel between our Higher Power deep down within us and us. God. but I won’t get anywhere if I don’t get in my car and drive or buy a plane ticket and get on the plane. Take away my difficulties. that I may better do Thy will. difficulties taken away—not for those things to BENEFIT us.” So from a careful reading of the Big Book and in the light of the history of the steps. And further. while still on our knees!) to find a Higher Power by working the steps. To do that we have to clean house. The “really really really ready” part comes if we actually start to do some work—start Step Four. and Step Three is simply the beginning— the decision to do the steps. This is the first time the Big Book really begins to talk about our need to get out of ourselves and to help others—that that is our job. A beautiful prayer! We’re offering ourselves to God. It’s a step where we reflect on what brought us to our knees—the broad notion of selfishness. which we’ll be discussing in future shares. The Big Book constantly reminds us that “Faith without works is dead. but we haven’t as yet done anything to accomplish that! So please don’t hang around waiting something—just keep on doing the steps! for Remember the Big Book’s discussion of Step Two: we are blocked off from our Higher Power that is deep down within us.

Not the million dollars. “it’s going to get worse!” “No thanks.” The blue sky suddenly is completely clouded over. and a boat comes along side. but didn’t do it. “just one more.” The helicopter flies off.00. God. my son. but for the benefit of a particular charity that needs it right away. the water has gone to the top of the first storey of the house.” says the police officer. I need to win the lottery. and a helicopter!” The lottery: A man kneels in his sparse bedroom and prays: “God. but just $40.” says Frank. my son. It starts to come off its roots. please. “Get in. my son.000. “I’ve put my trust and reliance upon God. “It’s getting higher. A deep and exasperated voice says.” There’s a long silence. God says. I’m going to be praying to you day and night until Saturday afternoon. “I’ve put my trust and reliance upon God. and it’s going to go higher than your house!” “No thanks.” “Pardon me?” “Let go of the branch.” “Oh. climb on!” “No thanks.00. The frogs just made a decision to jump. There’s lots of thunder and lightning. God. help me. goes to heaven. A helicopter comes by and lets down a ladder. Nor is the answer that the third frog would have jumped along with the other two. “Buy a ticket!” · · Now let’s rush on to Step Four! Hanging by a branch: A man falls off a cliff. And it’s not for me. He’s been praying for the whole week. and demands to see the Big Guy. but please.· Can you think of situations when you wanted things to go your way for motives which you consider to be self-centered? How did you feel when they didn’t go your way? And how do you feel now about those things? Are they settled now? Are you serene about them? Or do they still bother you in some way? Can you see how wanting things to go your way is blocking you off from your Higher Power? Are you ready to make a decision to search for a Higher Power by cleaning house and thus unblocking you from your Higher Power? If you are. is that you?” “Yes. and Frank is hanging onto the television antenna. Frank drowns.” “God. An hour later.000. Five minutes pass. The Flash Flood: A man is sitting on his verandah in the middle of a plain.” he says. “Just one more hour.” says the person piloting the boat. He starts to pray: “God. How many frogs are left on the log? The answer isn’t one.” says Frank. “I’ve put my trust and reliance upon God. “Where were you?” he asks angrily. but no rain. find an understanding person and say the Step Three Prayer! Three Frogs: Three frogs are sitting on a log. what do I do?” “Let go of the branch.” Saturday afternoon comes. and manages to catch a little branch halfway down the cliff. “there’s going to be a flash flood. when a police cruiser comes screeching to a halt in front of him.” A deep voice sounds out: “I’m here. Please. An hour later. Frank. The answer is three. and then the man speaks: “Is there anyone else up there?” 23 . a boat. my son. “Get in. Two make a decision to jump off a log. Frank. A shaft of sunlight streams onto his face. Frank is looking out the second-storey window. “I sent a car. what do I do.” The boat goes away. I’ve never prayed before. the water is over the roof. So I’m going to pray and pray.” The cruiser drives off.” says Frank. let me win just $40.

Step Four:
I think you’ll find that Step Four the Big Book way is really very simple and very fast, much simpler and faster than many of the Step Four methods that are popular in OA. Last chapter we discussed Step Three. We learned that from the Big Book perspective, it is simply making a decision to go on with the Twelve Steps. “This was only a beginning,” the Big Book says on page 63. And it says further, on page 64: “Though our decision [Step Three] was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless AT ONCE followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us.” In Step Two we learned that our Higher Power, which is deep down within us, was blocked off from us (“obscured”, the Big Book says) because of calamities, pomp, and worship of other things (page 55). In Step Three we made a decision to place our will and our lives into the care of our Higher Power. What we have to do now is to be rid of those things in ourselves which have been blocking us from our Higher Power. When we get rid of the things that block us from our Higher Power, we will find that our Higher Power enters into our lives. The task at hand is to get rid of the blocks. Step Four BEGINS this process of unblocking. It is NOT, however, the entire process. That process is Steps Four through Nine. The Big Book promises recovery by the end of Step Nine. And by virtue of Steps Ten and Eleven, that process continues through our entire lives. That Step Four is not the entire inventory process is made clear by the discussion on pages 64 and 65. “Therefore, we STARTED upon a personal inventory. This was Step Four.” The Big Book compares our personal inventory with a business inventory. It says that the purpose of a business inventory is “to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade.” In a business inventory, we look at the good and the bad of our business—what sells and what doesn’t sell, what’s in good shape and what’s in bad shape. As the Big Book points out, one of the objects of a commercial inventory “is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret.” And the Big Book says, “We did exactly the same thing with our lives. First, we

searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure.” This makes clear, I think, that the purpose of the Step Four inventory is NOT to look at BOTH the good and the bad of our lives, something that many Step Four inventory processes suggest. No, the purpose of the Big Book way of doing an inventory is solely “to disclose damaged or unsalable goods” (Steps Four and Five) and “to get rid of them promptly and without regret” (Steps Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine). Thus the inventory process is Steps Four through Nine. This will become significant when we discuss Step Ten. Note that at the end of the discussion of Step Four, the Big Book says that we have made “an inventory of [our] grosser handicaps”. It’s very clear that in Step Four we deal with the big problems, and that we leave the refining for Steps Ten and Eleven. The Big Book continues to push us to do the steps quickly so we can reach recovery. The Big Book has a very simple approach to Step Four.

Let’s start with the overview. The Big Book suggests that in Step Three we were “convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us” (page 64). The Big Book has three aspects of self that it wants us to look at. The first is resentments, and we’ll deal with them in this and the next chapter. We will find, I think, that a resentment is, in its broadest sense, the concept that “the past didn’t go my way”. The second aspect of self, which we’ll deal with the chapter after next, is fear. We will find, I think, that a fear is, in its broadest sense, the concept that “the future won’t go my way”. The third aspect of self, which we’ll also deal with the chapter after next, is sex conduct. We will find, My experience has been that there is no need to add to the Big Book’s approach by bringing in concepts from the AA 12 & 12 (as even Joe and Charlie do) or from anywhere else. Many people have achieved recovery quickly and efficiently by doing the Step Four inventory the Big Book way. For more discussion, see page 36.


I think, that the purpose of dealing with sex conduct is to figure out how we should handle the most difficult of relationships in order to have good relationships of every kind. So the Big Book’s ordering of Step Four is basically dealing with the Past, dealing with the Future, and then learning how to live in the present with other people. It’s very simple and very powerful! Here are the three forms, which I’ll be discussing in detail.

At you can download these forms and fill them in on your computer using Adobe Reader.



The "BIG BOOK'S" Way to Be Rid of Resentment (pages 63–67)
Affects my: (3) Core Character Defects (4)
"Putting out of our minds the wrongs others have done, [use fold lines to cover Columns 2 and 3] we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self- seeking and frightened? . . . [D]isregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? . . . When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white . We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to se t these matters straight." (page 67)

Study from the bottom of page 63 to the end of page 65 and then follow its instructions: a) List all people, institutions and principles (Column 1) from top to bottom. b) List all "causes" (Column 2), top to bottom. c) Do all six instincts in Column 3 from top to bottom for each “cause”. d) Consider the first three columns carefully. e) Then, complete C olumn 4 from top to bottom. I’m resentful at: (1) The causes: (2)

Self-Esteem Security (Pkt. Books) Ambitions Personal Relations Sex Relations Is any fear involved?





Study from the bottom of page 65 to end of the 3rd paragraph on page 67, and then follow the instructions. Go to each person who has harmed you or someone and say "_______ is spiritually sick." Don't forget to say the Resentment Prayer (Lines 3- 5, page 67), "God, please help me show ________ the same tolerance, pity and patience I would cheerfully grant a sick friend" for each and every person who has harmed you, themselves or someone else in Column 1 prior to starting Column 4.


Selfish: Dishonest: Self-Seeking: Frightened:

Selfish: Dishonest: Self-Seeking: Frightened:


INSTRUCTIONS: a) Study from the bottom of page 67 to the bottom of page 68 in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. b) Complete column 1 (listing whom or what I am fearful of), from top to bottom. c) Complete the remaining columns from top to bottom for each fear in column 1. Remember that “we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. . . . Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity” (page 68).
Fear Prayer: “God, Did self please remove my Where was reliance What would God have you be? Write out your answer fear and direct my my trust & work? question for each and every fear listed. (6) reliance? (3) attention to what you (4) would have me be” (5)

I’m fearful of: (1)

Why do I have the fear? (2)

to that




Be sure to continue to pray the “Earnest” prayers from page 70 (on the right hand side of this page) for ongoing guidance. st rength. them. what should I have done instead? (4) Was each Sex Sex The Earnest relation? Prayer Meditation Prayers (5) Page 69(6)Page 69(7) page 70 Whom did I hurt? (1) Where was I (2) Selfish: Dishonest: “God. d) Fill in each of the remaining columns from top to bottom. Be sure to restudy what happens if we “fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble” on page 70. and help do about This takes us me to this[each] out of live up to specific ourselves.” Inconsiderate: S E L F I S H “God. Don’t forget the Sex Prayer (“God. Sanity please show me The strength what to to do the right do about thing this[each] specific If sex is matter” Inconsiderate: S E L F I S H Selfish: Dishonest: Inconsiderate: S E L F I S H troublesome. “God.THE BIG BOOK’S WAY TO “SENSIBLY OVERHAUL” OUR OWN SEX CONDUCT (Pages 68 –70) INSTRUCTIONS: a) Study from the bottom of page 68 to the end of third paragraph on page 70. We think of please please their needs mold my show me and work for ideals what to them.” matter” It quiets the imperious urge. c) Do Column 2 from top to bottom. and the right ideal. when to yield would mean heartache. we throw ourselves the harder into helping others. Do not work across the page from left to right. please mold my ideals and help me to live up to them. “God.” “God. and the Big Book’s Sex Meditation (“God. We please earnestly show me pray for: what to do about The right this[each] ideal specific matter” Guidance in each questionable situation 28 Selfish: Dishonest: “God. Did I arouse: (3) Where was I at fault. sanity. please show me what to do about this [each] specific matter”) on page 69 . This will shape a “sane and sound ideal for our future sex life” (page 69). “The right answer will come if we want it”. please mold my ideals and help me to live up to them”) on page 69. b) Fill in Column 1from top to bottom. please mold my ideals and help me to live up to them. .

and then you die. and very minor things. or what “our injuries” were (page 65). not things that you think you should put down. Now “resentment” is broader than “anger”. I’m fat and ugly and unlovable. things that you regret. You may have had some traumatic things happen to you but have put them to rest and don’t think about them. institutions or principles with whom we were angry. The question is “what is on your mind right now?” It’s not “what has been on your mind in the past?” Therefore you’re just putting things down that you’re conscious of. I can only suggest that listing people. If you use the form available on the web site. like people who don’t spell words correctly or that person who cut me off at the intersection. If that’s true. I have found that if I write my list in an evening I will remember some more things in the morning. if you know that a particular name or institution or principle is going to have a lot of writing in the second column. The first instruction the Big Book gives is to list “people. I’ve put down very serious items. It’s what we discovered in Step Three—that we want to be in charge. That will give you true insight into issues relating to you. You make a list of people who are living rent-free in your mind. Filling out the resentment form: COLUMN ONE: The first instruction is simply to make a list. People ignore me. you could reserve a whole page for that particular item. I’ll never amount to anything. like ex-girlfriends and the man I trusted who lied to me. People are people. Here are some examples: · · · · · · I’ll never get thin. Since the second column is going to have much more writing on it. because your guilt continues to occupy your mind. In one way or another. why put them down? We’re just putting down what’s affecting us now. There will always be terrible suffering in this world. Don’t put yourself down––but do put down principles about yourself that bother you. · · · This program will never work. then. like Hitler and certain politicians and murderers. We need to write 29 . however. Life sucks.Resentments: So let’s start with resentments. is that what happened in the past just didn’t go your way. things that anger you or that frustrate you. a resentment. It includes anger. No one understands my pain.” (page 64) What is a resentment? It is something on our minds that we resent. COLUMN TWO: The second instruction is to ask “why we were angry” (page 64). Its Latin roots mean “to feel over and over”. you’re angry at people to whom you’ve done wrongs. are not defined in the Big Book and are not easy to define. You can consider a resentment as something or somebody that you’re angry at because it occupies your mind. but it goes much farther.” (Page 64) It is true that the Big Book uses the word “angry”. institutions. that you resent (or that you are “angry” at because they occupy your mind). We are to write short and to-the-point description of the various things that put these people or these institutions or these principles in our minds. like my wife and my parents and my children. things that you wish had happened or hadn’t happened. I can never eat french fries again. and that life hasn’t gone our way. That sense of resentment allows you to broaden the concept of anger beyond the dictionary definition. I find that it’s very helpful to consider “principles” as meaning “ideas that seem to be true that bother me”. An example is given at the bottom of page 65 for what we write in this column. is very very helpful. you’ll see that each form has room for three names of people or institutions or principles. or principles.––what the Big Book calls “the ‘number one’ offender. the what-ifs or ifonlys of our lives. Making this list is relatively simple. then. Institutions are institutions—groups of people. In a sense. and it’s best described as anything that’s living rent-free in your mind. Principles.

Let me give some examples. Ambitions means what I want out of life. and my fear. are obvious. Personal relations. for instance: · I’ll never be attractive to the opposite sex. my ambitions. does affect my security. . created conditions that created problems for my growing up. for instance: · responsible for the deaths of millions of people. . I’ll die early. · You can see the kind of things we fill out in the second column. but there’s no need to go into any details on each point. and my personal relationships. for example. a similar set of categories.) The resentment form has separate subcolumns for each one of these concepts. is still a hero to some people. etc. my ambitions. our ambitions. Beside an ex-girlfriend. . . for example. Affects my self-esteem. Doesn’t affect my self-esteem. I can put: · · · · responsible for the deaths of millions of people furthered the cause of anti-Semitism is still a hero to some people created conditions that created problems for my growing up with?” (page 65). sex relations. our security. including financially safe. and is associated with fear. I don’t want to give up food badly enough. (You’ll note at the bottom of page 64. or sex relations. I still think of her if only . for example (and this is ONLY an example!). Self-esteem means how I feel about myself. Doesn’t affect my self-esteem and sex relations. I could put: · · · · · · didn’t love me enough used me I used her that one day when . . Security means how safe I feel. but with “pocketbooks”—wallets or purses—instead of “security”. personal relationships.only enough so that we know what we are talking about. · Beside the institution of government. our personal. and is associated with fear. Does affect my self-esteem. doesn’t affect my sex relations. I could put: · · · doesn’t accomplish anything I don’t get involved enough people are still suffering · · Beside the principle of “I’ll never get thin”. furthered the cause of anti-Semitism. So for each one of the “causes” (column two) we put check-marks where each one of these sub-categories has been affected. ambitions. the form has a separate sub-column for fear. · COLUMN THREE: The third instruction is to ask ourselves “Was it our self-esteem. but doesn’t affect anything else. my personal relations. . does affect my security. . Using the Hitler example above. and fear. 30 . We’re not filling out this second column for anyone but ourselves. for example. . Doesn’t affect my self-esteem. personal or sex relations. personal and sex relations and fear. I’ll waste those pants I’ve been saving for ten years! Affects my security (pocketbooks). . because the example at the bottom of page 65 has “fear” in that third column as well. doesn’t affect my security. As well. security. The object is to have as many points as possible. I could put: · · · · I’ll never be attractive to the opposite sex I’ll die early I’ll waste those pants I’ve been saving for ten years! I don’t want to give up food badly enough Using the “I’ll never be thin” example above. my sex relations. ambitions. etc. affects my ambitions and fear and security. Beside Hitler. . which had been interfered · So you can see that filling out these sub-columns involves some thinking about each particular point in column two and how it is affecting me.

we had to be free of anger. It is truly an amazing feeling after filling out these three columns to see how many check-marks we have put down. how we relate to others (personal relations). The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. you may want to take some time to do this. Third column. (page 65) How true those words are! Any life—alcoholic or compulsive eater or not—which includes deep resentment tends to futility and unhappiness.” (page 65) I don’t know how long it will take each one of you to do this. As you fill the form out. (I showed it to a psychiatrist once who was overwhelmed by it.The Big Book says about this process: “We went back through our lives. but the object is to write down what’s on your mind. we just list on paper things that are bugging us. We begin to see that the most important things about ourselves—how we feel about ourselves (self-esteem). and ten or twenty points about some of them. column two is venting.) 3 First column. how we relate sexually to others (sex relations). And no wonder we eat. men. And with us. how frustrated we feel (ambitions). this business of resentment is infinitely grave. People who did us wrong continue to harm us. of course. If we were to live. Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty. We have to be free of anger/resentment. and even if you put down four or five points about most of them. whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. To the precise extent that we permit these. People we did harm to harm us. and how full of fear you are? Can you see that these things are blocking you from the sunlight of the spirit? · 31 . how frustrated you feel. Ideas that we have are killing us. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. how safe you feel. Column one is naming. how safe we feel (security). that’s not going to take more than a total of ten or fifteen hours. We found that it is fatal. Even if you end up with 200 names of people and institutions and principles. how good or bad your relationships (personal or sexual) are. that “dubious luxury of normal men”. to think about things. No wonder we’re blocked off from our higher power! EXAMINING CAREFULLY WHAT WE’VE DONE: Now here’s what the Big Book says after we finish these three columns. and column three begins an analysis. The whole of Step Four is answering questions. · · What’s on your mind that’s bugging you? Are the reasons that these things are bothering you affecting much of your life? Do they affect how you feel about yourself. do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. not what’s lurking in your sub-conscious mind. but for alcoholics these things are poison. and we go back to eating. because we waste time that we could have used for something else. Granted. We’re USING the things that bother us to get to the things that are blocking us from our higher power! There’s hope just around the corner! As the Big Book says at page 65. you will begin to see. but it shouldn’t take a very long time. I hope. No wonder we’re not happy. The Big Book says: It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. They may be the dubious luxury of normal 4 5 You can see. But with the alcoholic. because “we shut ourselves off” from our higher power. deep resentment is absolutely fatal. how this form gives us hope. and how fearful we are—are being controlled by other people and institutions and abstract concepts. we begin to see how the things that are bugging us are actually killing us. “The first thing apparent was that this world and its people were often quite wrong” (pages 64 to 65). they hold “the key to the future”! Questions: Here are some questions. to drink is to die. we write out why they’re bugging us. But for us compulsive eaters. how brilliant and how deep it is. Second column. I hope.

and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. we will not be able to see our part. Can we not look at people who have wronged us as being in spiritual pain? Let’s look at the history of the people who have wronged us. there is a fourth column. Things are going on inside them that makes their reactions to life beyond their control. The check-marks in the third column are very effective graphic representations of our paralysis. then we can look at our own flaws. of course. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us. We understand it and often instantly forgive people who have neurological disorders (like Tourette’s Syndrome) or brain tumours. their happiness”. or who are in constant pain. our personal and sex relations were deeply affected. we felt thwarted and frustrated (ambitions). We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance. also sick? What is a spiritual sickness? The essential Fourth Column: Let’s remember that the purpose of Step Four is to identify those parts of ourselves which are blocking us from our higher power. Can we not see somewhere in their upbringing. because so long as we felt our resentments. If we can’t overcome our resentments against them. they’re not so much worse than I am. 32 . the third column showed us that we felt badly about ourselves (self-esteem). We realize that it isn’t really their fault. were sick too. In fact. people who have done things which we wish they hadn’t done. We have decided. their prosperity. “like ourselves”. And they help us to convince ourselves that the things in our past which bother us—our resentments—have the power to kill us. How do we treat people as spiritually sick? We excuse people all the time. but in reality. The fourth column of the resentment form is in fact our analysis of those defects of character. How could we live life positively if these very deep emotions were being controlled by how we feel about the past? The Big Book tells us that we should go back to our list. and we were full of fear. That decision means that we have to discover what defects of character blocks us from our higher power.Continuing Step Four: Last chapter I discussed the first three columns of the resentment form. Here the Big Book gives very cryptic but clear instructions: This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. we felt unsafe (security). with people who have wronged us. Page 552 (third and fourth edition) of the Big Book contains a suggestion for dealing with resentments about people that we find overwhelmingly difficult to overcome. Our biggest problem is. The suggestion is that we pray that “everything you want for yourself be given to them—their health. and it turns out that this fourth column is the most important one of all! The first three columns are actually simply PREPARATIONS for the fourth column. or in their life experiences. that we do this whether we want to or not. Dealing with things that bother us: But before we can look at our defects of character. our flaws. pity. Many people (including me for the first six years in the program) assumed that those three columns are the only columns in the resentment form. “for it [holds] the key to the future” (page 65). or in how they relate to other people. they. These are the columns actually depicted on page 65 of the Big Book. to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God. like ourselves. I think I’d be pretty grouchy most of the time. If I were in constant pain. we have to deal with all the things that bother us—those aspects of the past that haven’t gone our way. (pages 65-66) What does it mean to say that the people who wronged us were. If we can master our resentments. that they are sick? How many persons who have committed sexual or physical violence were themselves recipients of abuse? How many “bad” parents were themselves the product of “bad” parenting? Don’t many people do bad things for reasons which they think are valid? Isn’t there a sickness to be seen in those people? And what right do I have to be righteous? Haven’t I done bad things for reasons which I thought were valid? Maybe not as bad as these people. in Step Three. if they snap at us or insult us.

So these few sentences from the bottom of page 66 to the top of page 67 really helped change my attitudes to people who had been controlling my life because of the things they had done to me or to my loved one or to humanity in general. please help me show ______ the same tolerance. You can’t blame a dog or a cat for doing damage in your house. the more harm they did to themselves. and to feel pity and sadness for them. then I have to be willing to understand others.The amazing thing about this suggestion is that it requires us first of all to figure out what we want for ourselves. I began not to hate them but to pity them. I was thus able to deal with such difficult people on my list as Hitler and others who have been responsible for horrible deeds in this world. 33 . How could they ever have serenity? How could they ever be useful? How could they ever love or be loved? Even if they thought they were happy. Certainly I hated what they had done. was a nail in their own coffin as well. something hit me in the face—that wonderful blinding flash of the obvious!—and that was that none of the people I hated were serene. and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. They led lives based on fear or mistrust of other people. the less human they became. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. they had rendered themselves sub-human such that it seemed impossible for them ever to come out of that status. and my everlasting frustration that life hasn’t gone my way and is likely never to go my way. “We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance. Thy will be done. and the “things” they became were horrible too. every hurt they created. That spiritual sickness consists at the very least of my wish to be in charge of life. the Big Book goes on to suggest ways in which we deal with people who bother us in the future: “When a person offended [the original manuscript actually said “next offended”] we said to ourselves. I was able to look at them as extremely damaged people. we’re ready to look at our own mistakes. we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. the more they cut themselves off from the sunlight of the spirit. They are guides to living. were useful. The things they did were horrible. ‘This is a sick man. As well. Neither this prayer nor these suggestions are part of the Step Four instructions. the more harm they did to themselves. self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely On page 67. “their symptoms” (column two). Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done. They were cruel or dishonest or hurt others (including me). and patience. We find that they were sick too. pity. or were able to love and to be loved. Here are the Big Book’s instructions (page 67): Referring to our list again. not simply to me but to others.” There’s the prayer: “God. By the time they committed all those deeds. And these people were more like animals (not that I’m saying that dogs or cats could do what these people did!) than like humans. And when I prayed for the people I hated. they had become “beneath contempt”. So we look at these people (column one). dishonest. after providing the instructions for Step Four. which I’ll talk about in a few paragraphs. And we’re given a prayer to say. they were living superficial and sad lives. that I would cheerfully grant a sick friend. an ability to love and to be loved. a sense of usefulness. the Big Book suggests ways of dealing with these people in the future—avoiding retaliation or argument.’” As well. Thus I began to get an insight into a character defect of dishonesty. They did harm to themselves by doing harm to others. If I accept that the more harm they did to me or others. Where had we been selfish. Moreover I began to see something that will become extremely important for the fourth column of this resentment form. I realized that what I really wanted for my self was serenity. That is spiritual sickness. “and the way these disturbed us” (column three).” Our four defects of character: Now that we have said that prayer about each person on our list whom we’ve harmed. By definition that’s a spiritual sickness! If I’m willing to understand myself. When I did this. In effect. then I am forced to accept that allowing them to continue to do harm allowed them to do harm to themselves. I was and am willing to admit that I am not perfect! I clearly have a spiritual sickness—the Big Book has convinced me of that. pity. But I saw that every wrong move they made. That is pitiful. Thus the more harm they did in this world.

but isn’t that a character flaw. we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. this is wrong!”? There may be understandable reasons for doing this.) DISHONEST: Dishonest certainly means telling untruths. or principle in column one define how I feel about myself? We can also understand it by asking whether with this person or principle or institution it was all about us or whether it was about the other. We don’t forget about the matters that might have appeared in columns two and three. It can be me! I can be fooling myself about reality. SELFISH: Selfish has already been defined very broadly by the Big Book in its discussion of Step Three. on our lists (column one) and ask ourselves four simple questions: Where have I been selfish? Where have I been dishonest? Where have I been self-seeking? Where have I been frightened? gardless of my motives. we fold the paper over to cover columns two and three. and principles. and that’s what’s in columns two and three—at least for those people who have done us wrong. by not saying. I’ve found those concepts to be very helpful questions to ask. To put out of our minds the wrongs others had done. My best understanding of the word comes from breaking it down: “Seeking my self” in others. but simply the particular issues that came to mind when we started upon our inventory. and institutions listed in column one and ourselves. principles.our fault. re- 34 . another aspect of dishonesty is “not telling the truth when the truth should be told”. however. for instance. and isn’t that ultimately dishonesty too? So there are three kinds of dishonesty: telling untruths to others. in which harm was being done to me (and I’ve been in some destructive relationships. “Wait a minute. or principles in column one. Beyond that. That requires us to cover up columns two and three. And the recipient of the dishonesty isn’t always another person. am I not being dishonest by not speaking the truth. The Big Book rarely uses it. defrauding. It’s like self-esteem. Very often— but not always—those matters will surface in column four. That requires a look at the entire relationship between those people. now that we’re focusing on our own contributions to the problems. institutions. FRIGHTENED: Frightened asks us how and why we felt any fear in relation to the people. SELF-SEEKING: Self-seeking is more difficult to define. for a people-pleaser like me. If I continued in a relationship. What columns two and three represent is not the entire relationship. which isn’t really helpful to us. We’ll see that no more are added by the fear and sex conduct Definitions: What do these words mean? This is the best I’ve come up with. those matters will have disappeared and completely new and striking insights will surface. (See the discussion of Step Three for more details. leaving us with columns one and four. It means wanting things my way period. institutions. or if I’ve seen injustices being done and said nothing (and that’s happened much more often). It’s because we must now focus on where we were at fault. so that’s how I interpret the word “self-seeking”. Sometimes. In that context. Where were we to blame? So the instructions on the form are pretty literal. although nothing even close to the kind of abuse I’ve heard described in the rooms of OA). institution. lying. and not telling the truth when the truth should be told. Selfish means not only what the dictionary says it means— wanting things my way for my own purposes or comfort—but it also means something broader than that. Now that we’ve been able to accept those who have wronged us as spiritually sick. Covering up columns two and three: Why do we cover up columns two and three? It’s not simply because the Big Book tells us to put out of our minds the wrongs others have done us. we are entering a new way of looking at things. telling untruths to myself. How does this person. A dictionary will use the word “selfish” to describe “self-seeking”. Those are the four character defects the Big Book discloses with respect to resentments. self-seeking is putting our sense of selves forward. So we cover up columns two and three and then look at the people. deceiving.

and that is what the steps are all about. They have all confirmed the concepts contained in this discussion of Step Four. that certain people could change if I only did this or that. And their “amend” ultimately turns out to be something positive. I wish that the people. institutions. .parts of Step Four. most of them were. We can see now that these four character defects completely define our problem. Or as abused spouses they kept in the relationship far longer than they should have. And full of fear! Afraid that people will find out what I’ve done. that somehow people who did me harm were conscious of what they were doing or were really making rational choices instead of just doing what they learned from their own sad experiences. I just wish the past was different. Afraid that people won’t respect or like or admire me. I wish that these things hadn’t happened because they don’t make me feel good. And I have also told untruths to myself. That means that we say to people that what they’re doing is wrong. Afraid I’ll lose what I have. But I will also find that there is much of me that is selfish the dictionary way. They don’t look at the past with guilt and beat themselves up for not having spoken up earlier. or principles that I set out in column one just didn’t exist or hadn’t happened or hadn’t done to me what they did or I didn’t do what I did to them. Dishonest: I’m dishonest. they might not have been believed anyway!) They simply look at the past as something for them to learn from. or not to have good feelings about them. through their emphasis on rigorous honesty. I don’t think that’s true at all. so I could make lots of money. . I wish the people. I have had the privilege of sponsoring a number of people who have suffered tremendous abuse. If you like me. so I could be acknowledged as the great person I really am. I have let so many people and situations define how I feel about myself. so that they won’t be victims again. but because they’re hurting THEMSELVES! It’s our duty to tell the truth when the truth should be told. The Twelve Steps certainly provide us a way of getting out of being a victim. But they also. institutions. As children. institutions. or principles in column one would be different so I could feel happier. I haven’t accepted that some people aren’t capable of acting any differently than the way they did. (As children. I wish the world were a better place. Afraid for my life. I wish people hadn’t died or got sick. persuading myself that the past could be different. both as children and as adults. How the Steps give us back our lives: One (inaccurate) criticism of Twelve Step programs that we hear a lot is that the Twelve Steps teach us that it’s all in our attitude. and we say that not just because they may be hurting us or others.—in other words. Afraid that I won’t get what I want. Fear: Applying the definitions: Selfish: I’m selfish. or principles in column one hadn’t happened because of the pain or the humiliation or the lack of security or the bad relationships or the bitterness or the guilt or the . silent. One bad evaluation out of a hundred is the one that I focus on. that we are to blame for misfortunes that happen to us. I have sought after a definition of myself in others. . the Big Book way—I want my way rather than what is. . sexual and physical. And I wish that the people. I wish people didn’t suffer as they’re suffer. sometimes disclosing things that they feel should have been disclosed. 35 . That’s selfish. At the very least. I haven’t left relationships that were harming both myself and the person who was harming me because I thought I could change the person (as if I were in control!). Afraid of confronting someone. Self-seeking: And self-seeking? Wow. Although I have never suffered the kind of abuse that other OAers have suffered. so I could buy things for my own comfort. I have told stories about other people (gossiped) because I wanted people to like me and not to like them. . teach us that we must be honest in our dealings with others. I don’t speak up when I should for fear of hurting people’s feelings. And I have also told untruths to others. . It’s worth mulling over all these ideas and applying them to your situation. of course. so I . But they become different people as a result. then you’re probably really smart. sometimes a change in themselves and their approach to problems in the future. then maybe I’m likable. because you can see below the surface. If you don’t like me.

We have to deal with those people who have done us harm. and that’s what’s killing us. and fear? What patterns do you see in your relationships with others in that regard? Do you see how these four character defects are blocking you off from the sunlight of the spirit? · Overview: In column one we start by just listing them. we’re finally ready to look at our own part. pity. And we begin to see tremendous patterns that have clearly affected us and our lives. · Are you able to look at people who have harmed you as spiritually sick? In what way? If you’re trying page 552. Then in column two we list all the particulars about why they’re on our mind. Sometimes when we put this down on paper. self-seeking. They acknowledge that they go beyond the Big Book’s instructions and incorporate ideas from AA’s 12 & 12. The Fear and Sex Conduct forms begin with those defects and bring us to another level––how to act properly. The Fear form asks us what God would have us be in relation to our fears. The checkmarks are graphic illustrations of how we are completely enslaved to our reaction to life! These first three columns show us why we are in the grip of compulsive eating. will see the differences between the Step 4 described here and their suggested Step 4. We need to be full of a higher power. our minds can’t be clear. dishonesty. and therefore their resentments list does not contain things that would be on a resentment list if you accept. exactly what do you want out of your life? What would you like for yourself? Do those people who have harmed you have anything like what you want to have for yourself? Do you see your selfishness. you don’t require a fourth form. How could we possibly think we could be so sane as to remember constantly that we can’t eat certain foods? No. institutions. My experience has been that if you use a broader understanding of resentments. and patience we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. self-seeking. but I think it’s important to show the differences. that a resentment is something I wish were not on my mind—a much broader concept. and they begin to leave us. we realize how some of the reasons are silly. We get things out of our minds and onto a paper. the AA Big Book scholars and experts. There’s another aspect as well. we’re just full of frustration and self-pity. and fear. but instead all these things that we resent have become a higher power to us. The Resentment form isolates our four main character defects––selfishness. is quite different from Joe and Charlie’s approach. it doesn’t matter HOW you do it! Questions: So some questions: · Are you spiritually sick? How? 36 . We do that by understanding their own sickness and praying to give them the same tolerance. how safe we feel. Not to say that it’s better or worse. Now. This serves a useful purpose. My experience is that if you do Step 4 as honestly as you can. therefore.We’ll talk more about that when we discuss Steps Eight and Nine. and we thus get to analyze what exactly is going on. how full of fear we are. The Sex Conduct forms deals with selfishness and dishonesty (and indirectly with selfseeking) in particular relationships and asks us what we should have done instead in order to act properly from now on. the harm I have done to others wouldn’t be a resentment. how frustrated we are. We have to be rid of them. Then in column three we see how all those things that bother us are affecting us to the core—how we feel about ourselves. We begin to see where we could change! · · · Those of you aware of Joe and Charlie. We begin to see how we have harmed other people. as I’ve been taught. or principles we resent in light of our own character defects. EVEN those who have harmed us. The Big Book’s approach to fears and sex conduct. that in itself yields interesting results. dishonesty. As long as we’re filled with frustration and self-pity. in column four. Thus Joe and Charlie have a fourth form––harm done to others––because using their definition of resentment. how our personal and sex relations are suffering. this in itself will at times get rid of the resentment. We analyze each one of the people. Joe and Charlie define “resentment” almost wholly in terms of anger. I hope you can see how freeing this approach to resentments is.

please remove my fear of _______. The Big Book at page 67 says that fear “somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. concern about the unknown. Fear is always an emotion that comes from imagining what will happen and not wanting that to happen. It asks us to acknowledge that “self-reliance failed us” and that “we are now on a different basis. and some are simply stupid! This is in itself a learning experience. I fill out column four for each of the fears before going on to column five. Columns Three and Four: But the Big Book has more instructions. To figure out WHY I had a particular fear meant I had to analyze it. I fill out column three for each of my fears before going on to column four. nothing more. If I worry about my daughter’s future. of something bad happening to loved ones. Each one of these things tells me a great deal about myself. my fear is not simply that she won’t be happy.” 37 . and direct my attention to what you would have me be. that her fate may somehow make me look like a bad parent. then fears are basically “The future won’t go my way. I fill out all of column two before I go on to column three.” (page 68) The form does this by setting out two questions. Why have I been afraid of death. If I have to tell a friend something that I don’t want to tell but feel that I should. of not being happy. It was fascinating and instructive. both in column 3 (where we asked whether fear was involved) and in column 4 (where we asked ourselves where we were frightened).” Here is the simple prayer. fear of political conflict or social or economic or geographic disasters. the basis of trusting and relying upon God. I fill out all of column one before I go on to column two. that I won’t have grandchildren. of pain. and column four just provides us with a box to check that we’ve said it: “God. Hmmmm. Filling out the Fear Form: First “we put them on paper. Column four is whether relying on ourselves worked. The Big Book says: “We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. That’s column two. of financial insecurity. If it did work. That’s column one. even though we had no resentment in connection with them” (68). Column Two: Then the Big Book says “We asked ourselves why we had them. Hmmmm. I’ve put down all kinds of fears. but they’re also that I may be wrong. Column Five: Now comes column five. I did this in point form. I wouldn’t have these fears! We put a checkmark under “No” for each of the fears we have. Column One: So we set out all the fears we have.Step Four—Fears: If resentments are basically “The past didn’t go my way”. the more I discover that some of my reasons for fear are quite understandable. fear of following through on a particular decision that might affect others. but (as I’m honest with myself) that I may feel forced to support her. I wonder what the answer to that is going to be? We put a checkmark under “My finite self” for each of the fears we have. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. that I’ll be misunderstood.” (page 68) So I asked myself why I had each fear. of not losing weight—and fears relating to individuals on my resentment list—fear of telling someone something that should be said.” The instructions are pretty clear.” You cannot feel fear about something that has happened in the past. that my friend will suffer. concern about pain before death. but also because of concern for those I’m leaving behind. I have put down some standard fears—fears of death. and the form makes them even clearer. for instance? Not simply because of annihilation. and some are quite self-seeking and selfish. as well as fears that didn’t make it to the resentment list because we didn’t think about them all the time. including those we discovered in the resentment form. my fear is not simply that I will lose a friend. So the more honest I am in the analysis. that others may hate me. Column three is whether we were placing our trust and reliance upon infinite God or our finite selves. Wonder what that answer is too? Of course it didn’t work. curiosity for what will happen afterwards. I simply listed them.

my prayer might be answered by a realization that I should be a person who doesn’t undertake unimportant tasks that risk my health! So fears become things we accept and take into account in figuring out what we should be and do. you get a real sense of purpose and direction. but who resolutely undertakes the task because it must be performed. rather than destructive way. But that would be accompanied by other unreasonable fears that accompany my fear of hurting myself—for instance that when I fell. it’s almost always a matter of attitude (what God would have me be) which may or may not result in action. And that is the promise we’re given at page 68: “At once. This requires some meditation. for instance. You will be amazed by how simply this form deals with our fears. Assuming that it was important to undertake that task. and so on and so on. what is the BEST I can make of it? What would my higher power have me be? If I undertook a risky task. We REPLACE those fears with acceptance. I would then be in the position. we commence to outgrow fear”. Or it could be as simple as “to be a person who doesn’t worry about these things”! Whatever it turns out to be. 38 .Column Six: And column six requires us to put down what we think that God would have us be.” Overview: Fear destroys and paralyzes us and keeps us from being the best we can be. This in itself provides the springboard for removing even the reasonable fears. which in turn relieves you of fear. in taking my reasonable fear of falling and balancing that against the importance of doing whatever the task might be. “What would God have me be?” would be to be a person who takes significant precaution and care. In so doing. Concentrating on and saying the prayer shows us the nature of an amend to be made by helping us focus on the future in the most constructive. when I prayed to know what my higher power would have me be. and my wife and my children would go to ruin taking care of me. I would start off with a reasonable fear that I might fall and hurt myself. No wonder the Big Book promises that “at once. the answer to the question. my head would hit a jutting out spike and render me completely brain-dead. On the other hand. Given this reasonable concern. and then they would fall into deep depressions and end up committing suicide. Note it’s not “what you would have me do”. we commence to outgrow fear. You know what it can be like when we dwell on the worst! So I would be able to separate the reasonable from the unreasonable fears. to be the best friend. The answer is very often “to be the best I can be under the circumstances”—to be the best father. maybe even simply to BE rather than to worry or spend my time thinking about useless fears. and the meditation will yield great rewards! This is a brilliant prayer. It’s not a question of action (what God would have me do). which is then followed by a sense of direction. We have been able through this form to separate the reasonable fears from the silly ones. Here we are getting an insight into ourselves. but “what you would have me be”.

What can we do about them. “sex” did not simply refer to physical sexual activity. We’ve dealt with them. Our physical desires can easily overpower any kind of good thinking. The Big Book points out that “we all have sex problems. (Just an aside here. we examine those relationships we’ve had which were most difficult and learn what to do better in the future. but not necessarily the physical activity we now call “sex”. Then the Big Book asks. even with acquaintances or friends. Selfish and dishonest retain their meanings. therefore. but not all. (Note that we’re starting where the Resentment form ended. for example. just a general hunger for things. in the present. from the resentment inventory—“wanting my way” for selfish and “not telling the truth when the truth should be told. and know what we should have done. That’s why I think the Big Book talks about Sex Conduct. It had a broader meaning. if they bother us. which are all found on page 69. Patterns immediately emerge. but I do consider the question carefully each time. and many. dishonest. then why does the Big Book discuss Sex Conduct next? I think there’s a simple answer. if they bother us. dishonest. and someone to whom I was strangely attracted but had no real interest in and was very awkward around . we will invariably find that (aside from family) among those relationships were ones in which there was some physical attraction between us and the other person. The purpose of the Sex Conduct Inventory is to figure out how to have a sound relationship right now.Step Four—Sex Conduct: If resentments are “the past didn’t go my way” and fears are “the future won’t go my way”. To have real and honest relationships with people. suspicion or bitterness?” That’s the third column. and a friend I jokingly flirted with. or inconsiderate”. and we fill that out for every person on the list. it’s now time to learn how to live in the present. I listed my wife. of course. It’s an aspect of “wanting everything on the plate”. I find that I don’t always check any of those boxes. of my exgirlfriends. is not to deal with our past sex conduct issues. If we look at the most complex relationships we’ve ever had. Although we often hear that men generally want physical sex more than women.” (page 69) The purpose of the Sex Conduct Inventory. I think. as many of us have experienced. “selfish. With that introduction. and good advice is simply to fill that first column out first. To live in the present requires us to know how to have real and honest relationships with people. we go to the instructions in the Big Book. Nor is its purpose to deal with any sex conduct issues we’re worried about in the future. the answer was pretty consistent: I stayed in the relationship longer than was healthy for both me and my ex-girlfriends. then we have a guide to acting in ALL of our relationships. And we fill that out for every person on the list. what should we have done instead?” So that is the fourth column—what I should have done instead. “Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy. by analyzing out what we did wrong in the past and what we should do in the future. there are quite significant exceptions to this generalization. or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt?” Filling out the Sex Conduct Form: You will see on the form that there is a column for writing down “whom had we hurt”.) Inconsiderate is simply not thinking of the other person’s feelings or interests. Of course. We’ve dealt with them. the Big Book tells us. For most of my past relationships. and the physical attraction was probably unbalanced—one of the two was more attracted than the other. Then the second column is where we write where we had been. Back in 1939. The true purpose. If we’ve dealt with the past in the Resentment Inventory and the future in the Fear Inventory. under fears. my experience in talking to so many women in OA is that many OAers—whether men or women— want physical sex more than their significant others. Another key to understanding the Sex Conduct Inventory is to understand the meaning of that phrase. of the Sex Conduct Inventory is to try “to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. Then the Big Book asks. We’d hardly be human if we didn’t. Where had we been selfish.) So if we could figure out what we did wrong in some of our most complex relationships. and I should have left it earlier on and in a more honest 39 . in relation to the person we put down.” Here are the instructions: “We reviewed our own conduct over the years past. “Where were we at fault. under resentments. or telling falsehood to others or myself” for dishonest. It referred to relationships in which there was some physical attraction.

selfish has to be looked at in the broad sense that was discussed in Step Three. but it’s a very powerful one. and I should simply stop flirting with her.” The Sex Meditation is: “God. and to know what we should have done instead. we find. please mold my ideals and help me to live up to them.way. For the friend I flirted with. We find that our basic approach has to be loving and tolerant and giving. if we want it. We check that out for every relationship. that in our most difficult relationships often the greatest barrier has been ourselves.” This is a pretty simple form. in short. what should I do about each specific matter. Then the Big Book says.” And we say that prayer and that meditation for every person on the list. For my wife the answer is that I have thought of my own interests. I deprived her of a potential friend. The Sex Prayer is: “God. 40 . The Big Book promises us: “The right answer will come. And then we have the Sex Prayer and the Sex Meditation. we find that we can’t assume too much about other people’s intentions or actions. I was hurting her and her husband. “We subjected each relation to this test—was it selfish or not?” And that’s the fifth column. We can now extrapolate from our most difficult relationships to all other relationships.” THAT’S the whole point of this exercise—to know what we did that was wrong. “In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. The Big Book says. For the person I was awkward around. and that I should always love her more and think of her needs more. Again.

and is probably more like 10 hours. We have begun to learn tolerance. But if you haven’t completed the forms within about six weeks. We have commenced to see their terrible destructiveness. And it’s always short! The advice of my first sponsor has stayed with me: “Just finish it! It’ll never be perfect. no matter how many people appear on our sex conduct forms. Step Four is about identifying the BIG character defects. for we look on them as sick people. We filled out some simple forms and learned a lot about ourselves. for instance) and set out the reasons you have that fear. Now grosser in this context doesn’t mean “ewwww”. and if you’ve found a different method that works for you. for instance) and set out the reasons you have that fear. No matter how many people. then there’s no reason other than curiosity to try this one. We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct. Refining things comes later on. and are willing to straighten out the past if we can. So just get this one done so you can recover! After you recover. Questions: Now some questions: · · · Do your fears prevent you from thinking clearly? Do your fears sometimes get you into more trouble rather than less? Take an example of a fear that appears to be reasonable (fear of wandering around in a dangerous part of town. or you’re procrastinating. The total amount of writing probably would never exceed 20 hours. make an appointment to do Step Five just to give you the impetus to finish Step Four. We have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality. We have listed and analyzed our resentments.Step Four: Conclusion: We have now completed our Step Four Inventory from the Big Book’s perspective. It was pretty simple. after we have recovered. and to relapse is to die!). Did any of your reasons for having that fear turn out to be unreasonable or self-serving? Take an example of a fear that appears to be unreasonable (sudden illness of a cautious healthy loved one. even our enemies. This isn’t the place to compare this method of doing Step Four with others. it doesn’t take a very long time to fill them out. then either you are incredibly busy with emergency issues (because doing Step Four has to be a major priority—if you don’t do it and finish the steps. but they do serve as a · 41 . dishonest. but it’s probable that you would space those hours out over a few weeks. or principles appear on our resentment form. Did any of your reasons for having that fear turn out to be reasonable? What would your higher power have you be in relation to those two fears? Have your most difficult relationships been those in which there has been an imbalance of physical attraction? Have any of those relationships affected your ability to have relationships with other people even when there has been no issue of physical attraction? Take an example of such a relationship and set where you were selfish. it simply means “cruder” or “bigger”. What should you have done instead? · · · · · The Step Four promises: The Big Book gives us promises on page 70. So just get the form done! If necessary. no matter how many fears appear on our fear forms. then you can do more and get more insight. we have written down a lot. checklist for us to see if we have done a good Step Four: If we have been thorough about our personal inventory. Note that on page 71 the Big Book suggests that Step Four is simply making “an inventory of your GROSSER handicaps”. then this might be worth trying. in Step Ten. you will relapse. institutions. I have certainly never found it to be anything less than overwhelming. and inconsiderate. But if doing Step Four has been such a difficult task for you because your current method or your sponsor’s method of doing Step Four has you writing for weeks and months and years. They’re not overwhelming ones. patience and good will toward all men.

But the essence of the steps was contained in the original six steps. in the sense we find it necessary. our problem is one of ego. Five. we may not overcome drinking [compulsive eating]. and Seven in one day! You may ask how we can discuss three steps in one chapter? The reason is that the Big Book actually has us do Steps Five. Aside from the very basic notion of “confession is good for the soul”. and there were a lot of unspoken parts to each of the steps. in completing our housecleaning. and even Eight. as we found in Steps Three and Four. in the chapter Working With Others. and Ten. Bill Wilson added the other six steps because the Big Book was going to be read by people who had no one from AA to help them through the steps. and Twelve. In Steps Six and Seven we acknowledge our readiness to have those defects removed. and he wanted to make certain that there were no loopholes. It is important. Three. they say. met many people who have bogged down at Step Six because they don’t feel that they are really really ready to have a particular character defect removed. it says. And if doing that works for you. who don’t do Step Five. so the Big Book tells us how to find someone. of self-will. there are other good reasons as well.” (page 72) The Big Book explains this in some detail. on the same day. I also discuss it in more detail in the Chapter on Step Three. “had not learned enough of humility. fearlessness and honesty. however. a double life in which we pretend to be someone we’re not. I have. Seven. Step Five: The Big Book discusses Step Five from pages 71 to 75. the Big Book tells us that once we have recovered. Six. Seven. The Big Book’s approach is very simple. and/or have bogged down at Step Seven because they keep waiting for their character defects to be removed BEFORE they go on to Steps Eight and Nine. until they told someone else ALL their life story.” (pages 73-74) Page 74 deals with choosing the person we will share our story with.I’ll be discussing Steps Eight and Nine together since they go best together.” (page 73) We live. People. 42 . The Big Book’s approach is clearly different. Eleven. let alone the world. (You can see this from page 263 of the 4th edition [292 3rd edition]. If. And the defects are removed through the actions taken in Steps Eight and Nine. you will find that before the Big Book was written there were only six steps—the equivalents of Steps One. In Steps Four and Five we identify the character defects that block us from our higher power. Six. Nine. they say. Naturally the six steps were handed down from one AAer to another. we can sponsor people and be the person with whom they do a Step Five (see page 96). and I recommend it to you if you’re having trouble doing the steps using other methods. We find that we aren’t alone––that the person with whom we’re sharing understands us and can probably match every one of our actions with one of his or her own. And we also get insight and feedback that might help us understand ourselves––neither taking ourselves too lightly or too seriously. Six. or if you just want a quick and powerful way of recovering form compulsive eating. Four. Why? Pages 71 and 72 are taken up with discussing WHY we have to do Step Five. The answer is ultimately pretty simple: “If we skip this vital step. then I do not suggest making any changes. “We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world. not listed in the Big Book. Eight. and from the AA publications AA Comes of Age and Pass It On. were added. So Steps Two. then we have to learn humility—that we aren’t and can’t be in charge of our own life. Later on.) We’re used to spending a great deal of time and effort thinking about Steps Six and Seven because we read the steps as being equal and we have two major pieces of literature—the OA 12 & 12 and the AA 12 & 12 giving equal number of pages to each step. If you look at the history of the Twelve Steps. Steps Five. Who? We must remember that the Big Book was published when there were no more than one hundred AAers in the entire world.

my self-seeking. here are the reasons I have it [column two]. That’s it. I feel as if my innermost self has been revealed. “Well. but not bitterness or jealousy [column three]. Then I take the Step Four Sex Conduct form and read it across the columns.” Note that we spend no time in talking about the wrongs that others have done to us. illuminating every twist of character. I see how my selfishness.” (page 75) When I do Step Five. at times to say. and my fear. either in Step Four or in Step Five. have permeated my Promises! The Big Book makes certain promises at the end of this part of Step Five. perhaps give a short identifier or explanation of the name. I invite my friend to probe my responses. Exactly what are we supposed to do? I can only give you my experience. but I have found out that I am not alone. how serious I am about the process. across from where I have been selfish. my dishonesty. in fact it is not. and frightened (column four). the relationship was selfish [column five]. The Big Book’s instructions on actually DOING the step are not very detailed. and I said the sex prayer [column six] and the sex meditation [column seven]. and using the forms which are available at the web site above. We are working on what’s wrong with us. or principle (column one). then aren’t we really taking the inventory of the other people and not of ourselves? Then I take the Step Four Fear form and read it across the columns. OAers understand me. these next three people on the list are exactly the same. based on the nature of our Step Four done the Big Book way. But you can see how little time it need take.” I then discuss briefly exactly what I think my higher power would have me be in relation to that fear. and so many different people. “I’m just like you. with the name of the person. but they also perform another important function: they are able to say. then we have almost certainly left something out. and how I have created virtually identical patterns in so many different situations. and I said the Fear Prayer [column five]. He should realize that we are engaged upon a life-and-death errand. “Here is one fear [column one]. I go from name to name. We might identify some wrongs the others have done in brief in order to assist the person listening to our Step Five to give us some feedback. I’m not detailing the wrongs that others have done to me. so I can take them all together. that he fully understand and approve what we are driving at. I’m not telling my life story from womb to today. we are delighted. Not only do they fulfill the above criteria. I aroused suspicion. I’m not answering a bunch of questions in enormous details. I am able. to see if there are other things I might write down and didn’t think of. With my friend listening and thinking with me about what I might have missed out and telling me that he or she is very similar to me. but if we spend too much time identifying those wrongs. self-seeking. I placed my trust and reliance upon my finite self [column three] and it didn’t work [column four]. and then read off what I have written in the fourth column. If we do not feel these promises. “Here is a person I hurt [column one]. here are the ways in which I was selfish.The criteria are simple: “It is important that he be able to keep a confidence. and inconsiderate [column two]. they will be honored by our confidence. I take the Step Four Resentment form as folded over. This is NOT an opportunity for venting. entire life. I have found this way to be extremely powerful and—added bonus!—quite efficient and relatively brief. dishonest. Here are the promises as found on page 75: Once we have taken this step. What I find is that after a few sheets it gets pretty repetitious. How? The Big Book then gives us instructions for meeting with the person to whom we tell our story: “We explain to our partner what we are about to do and why we have to do it.” Not only have I learned humility. that he will not try to change our plan” (pages 74-75). Most people approached in this way will be glad to help. I have found that doing my Step Five with an OAer has been tremendously powerful. I’m focusing on my major defects of character and sharing them with another human being. I read off the name. OAers or other Twelve-Steppers can give us that extra ingredient which is so helpful for us isolated and self-pitying selves. dishonest.” Although this may seem mechanical. every dark cranny of the past” (page 75). what I should have done instead was _________ [column four]. Here they are: “We pocket our pride and go to it. institution. withholding nothing. I tell my friend how important it is that I do this step. We can 43 .

So we review what we’ve written—we look at all our filled-out forms again. 1941 issue of The Saturday Evening Post which brought enormous publicity to AA. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs. walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe. It was an amazing experience. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. but we haven’t yet admitted them to God. Our fears fall from us. We’ve admitted to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. so I could tell I was going deeper. but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. We feel we are on the Broad Highway. Have we done what has to be done? Have we said what has to be said? If the answer is yes. and it will probably be yes. then we go on to Step Six that same day. and the promises still didn’t come to me. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better” (page 75). We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator.” Then the Big Book tells us to study the first five steps and ask our higher power “if we have omitted anything” (page 75). Do we feel we are on the Broad Highway. so I did another Step Four and another Step Five. Not yet finished! But Step Five isn’t yet finished. The cover of the March 1.look the world in the eye. The amazing thing was that each time I “redid” Step Four I discovered new resentments and new fears (and occasionally new sex conduct issues). If the answer is no. The Big Book tells us to go home and “find a place where we can be quiet for an hour. carefully reviewing what we have done. thank you from the bottom of my heart that I know you better. My sponsor suggested I redo Step Four and then do another Step Five. 44 . After the fourth Step Four and the fourth Step Five these promises came true. In point form: · · · · · · · Are we delighted? Can we look the world in the eye? Can we be alone in perfect peace and ease? Have we begun to feel the nearness of our Creator? Have we begun to have a spiritual experience? Although not promised. walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe? Then we have a prayer: “God. then we go back and figure out what we left out in either Step Four or Step Five. The first time I did this part of Step Five these promises did not come to me. and then another. The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly. I did that. perhaps we’re feeling that the drink problem has disappeared.

or to be full of lust or gluttony or pride or sloth or greed or envy. We may have those (I have many of them!). The Big Book is very clear about this. defects at Step Six. I have certainly gossiped. I am now willing that you should have all of me. You’re much more willing to give up four huge ones than 40 of varying significance! The Big Book promises NOTHING at Step Six. . If you experience relapse while spending time on Steps Six and Seven. And we are full of fear. · We are selfish—we basically want our way. right after our Step Five. when you realize how they have truly harmed your life. self-seeking. These things appear to me to be actions. The removal of our defects of character comes only when we take action. Some have found the discussions in the AA 12 and 12. all stemming from our wish to have our own way. A brilliant prayer. it’s not the purpose of these essays to compare the Big Book method of doing Step Four with others. or to be full of anger. please help me be willing to remove my character defect of ____________”. The Big Book says: “Now we need more action. A defect of character is something that gives rise to wrong actions. spend much more time on Steps Six and Seven. good and bad. as I go out from here. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength. It’s clear. 45 Many inventory methods will list things like “gossip” or “lust” or “gluttony” or “cheating” or “lying” as defects of character. but there is a tremendous advantage of understanding these four major character defects rather than thinking that you have 40 major character defects. whether for good or bad or a mixture of reasons. to be very helpful. Again. you say”God. You won’t want to hold on to selfishness. not defects. to do your bidding. or to manipulate others. or to feel exceedingly sorry for ourselves— or a combination of many of these! But all of these behaviors come down to the four character defects. It’s not the purpose of this book to argue one way or the other. maybe you should try to do them as quickly as the Big Book suggests. however. dishonesty. we have realized that we have four major character defects. So if you’re ready to have your higher power remove these four major character defects. dishonest. You just say the prayer and then you’re ready for some action! Out of these four major character defects we have constructed any number of behaviors that create problems for us—a tendency to isolate. Our higher power is not going to remove our character Overview: Steps Six and Seven are simply way-stations on these steps. I did it because of my being selfish. That’s why I happen to like the Big Book’s approach to Step Four. There are NO promises for Step Seven either. or to be paralyzed by fear. [page 76] Then go on to Step Seven anyway! Why wait? Recovery is just around the corner. We get to keep those defects of character which DO NOT stand in the way of our usefulness to our higher power and our fellows. or to gossip. They are moments in time. when we consider where we have come from and where we are going to. without which we find that ‘Faith without works is Many OAers. and frightened.) · · · Step Seven: You say the prayer on page 76 of the Big Book. you’re on to Step Seven! (If you’re not. We are dishonest—we don’t tell others or ourselves the truth about reality. self-seeking. My Creator. and fear. We are self-seeking—how others react to us defines how we feel about ourselves. or the OA 12 and 12. Amen. But in and of itself gossiping was not my character defect. But it’s simply a prayer. or to live in a fantasy world. of course. that the Big Book’s approach is that Steps Six and Seven are done relatively quickly. or to have bad relationships with others.Step Six: Doing Step Four and Five the Big Book way. The promise of that will only come halfway through Step Nine. and recover very powerfully. Are we ready to have our higher power remove these four major character defects? My experience tells me that you will be if you do Step Four the Big Book way.

But we’ll discuss Steps Eight and Nine together in the next chapter. dishonesty. self-seeking.’” Then it talks about Steps Eight and Nine. which we’ll talk about next chapter. Bob Smith · · · · · · The Big Book suggests that we do Step Eight the same day that we do Steps Five.dead. and Seven: Some questions: · Do you recognize the importance of sharing your character defects with another human being? Why is it important to you? What do you expect from the person who is going to hear your Step Five? Will you be open to that person’s asking you questions. and Seven. etc. what? Dr. providing you with feedback? What do you think about the proposition that the behaviors that many of us have understood to be “character defects” (the Seven Deadly Sins. Six. Six. and fear) discussed by the Big Book? Does doing Steps Six and Seven the same day as you do Step Five bother you? Why does it bother you? Is it simply because you think you should spend as much time on those steps as all the others? Because you’ve been told you should? Or because you think something may be missing? If so. 46 . Questions for Steps Five. gossiping.) are really symptoms of the four major character defects? Can you take something you thought to be a character defect and relate it to the four character defects (selfishness.

First we make a list of people we had harmed and figure out what harm we’ve done them. They are the steps which remove our character defects and allow us to become different people—recovered people. The first is that if they are possible to make. The Big Book’s instructions are simple. That same amend is then described from the harmto-others perspective from the bottom of page 80 to the middle of page 82. and the second time to discuss how to deal with situations in which others might be hurt by making that amend. including those we’ve already hurt.” (page 76) Then we make those amends unless to do so would injure them or others. The first amend—eyeball to eyeball—is described from the bottom of page 76 to the middle of page 78. with the example of whether or not to tell a spouse of an extra-marital affair. that is good enough.Steps Eight and Nine: Steps Eight and Nine are not discussed separately in the Big Book. we must make them or else we will not recover. and promises us that if we are ready to make them. The second amend—restitution—is described on page 78 with the example of debts. people full of hope who are able to transmit that hope to the compulsive eater who still suffers. When you think about it. you work out what kind of amends you could possible make to make up for the harm done. using the three kinds of direct amends and living amends as a guide. the Big Book says. we sweep our side of the street off and not deal with the wrongs others have done to us. and making only amends if we won’t hurt other people. Amends we cannot make: And on page 83 the Big Book discusses amends we can’t make. you have to make broader amends. or if the harm you’ve done has had broader consequences. They discuss one action—making amends—which is broken down into two parts— being ready to make amends to everyone we’ve hurt. First you write down the names of persons (and institutions) you have harmed. they don’t need apologies or restitution—they need a new person to have a relationship with. with the example of confronting a person face to face and apologizing for our side of the action. Living Amends: The Big Book discusses living amends from the middle of page 82 to the middle of page 83. these are the only three kinds of direct amends. Really quite simple. “when we took inventory. The third amend—public consequences—is described on from the bottom of page 78 to the top of page 79 with the example of willingness to go to jail. scribed from the harm-to-others perspective on page 79 with the example of paying alimony to an ex-wife with the result of harming the current family. (I’ll deal with variants of that issue a little later in this chapter. You go directly to a person and apologize and/or make up for the harm you’ve done. The Big Book provides two basic rules for making amends. · · · The first is eyeball to eyeball—“I am sorry for what I have done. The second is that in making our amends. We made that list. 47 . Second you figure out what harm you’ve done them.” Each of these is discussed by detailed example twice—the first time to describe the nature of the amend. These are the action steps which actually bring us recovery from compulsive eating. and then de- Filling in the Step Eight and Nine Form: The Steps Eight and Nine form available on the web site and following this chapter is pretty self-explanatory. Here the concept is that direct amends simply aren’t enough for people with whom we have had longterm relationships.” The second is restitution—“I will make up for what I have done. and then described from the harm-to-others perspective on page 80 with the example of making up for a lost reputation. Third.) Types of Amends: What kinds of amends are there? Direct Amends: The Big Book—through examples—lists three kinds of direct amends.” The third is taking the public consequences—“I will make known to other people what I have done.

You harmed a person’s reputation—you restore the person’s reputation. dishonesty. We don’t blame ourselves for what we did or didn’t do at an earlier time. On the other side. to treat them with pity and compassion. how? If you recall our discussion of Step Four. So we have to think about whether or not going public in some way would cause more or less harm for that person. Never”.) So a possible amend might be an apology for not having stopped them in time. we were silent when we should have been speaking the truth. you don’t make the amend. we knew suddenly that that person could have none of those things because that person had done horrible harm to us and perhaps others. Although not in the Big Book. They should not be able to continue to harm us! And then there’s another possible aspect. Simple amends are those that are very clear. The more amends you make. and NOT continuing to feel fear and guilt about what occurred. (Of course we realize this looking back. I love you now. pitiful. just like the Big Book examples. Have those character defects harmed the person who has harmed us. the form also contains those well-known OA/AA columns of “Now. to be able to love and to be loved. and the amends in the “never” column end up in the “sometimes” column.” There’s an example of an amend that would 48 . the more that person has become less capable of being a human being. though. they are ultimately overwhelmingly satisfying. The complex amends: What about the difficult ones? Let’s take a common area of concern for many OAers I have met—the person who has in fact been very badly dealt with by another person—perhaps sexually or physically abused or. For many of these people. you will find it so fulfilling that the amends in the “sometimes” column end up in the “now” column. because you feel much closer to your higher power than ever. then you should make the amend. we hoped for them to change. We are looking to see what we COULD have done so we can make sure that things like that don’t happen in the future. to stop thinking that they could change. she felt that was the least she could to try to prevent that person from doing harm to himself or others. we expected them to change. If the answer is yes. to feel at peace. Our OA 12 & 12 gives a great example—something like. It might also be stopping that person from doing harm to others by going public. “Hello.Fourth. it might be necessary to grab his/her arm in a way that could cause a broken arm. one fact that we faced is that the more a person has harmed others. Amends we can’t make: There are amends. And so on. betrayed. that we can’t make because they would directly harm other people. in her eyes. self-seeking. If you do the amends in the “Now” column. Remember that we prayed for that person to have what we wanted out of life—and when we prayed for that person to have serenity. He could do no more harm to himself or to others. including the person you’ve harmed. You stole money or caused economic hardship—you pay it back. So what harm have we done to them? At the very least. you ask yourself whether making those kinds of amends would injure other people. You lied to someone—you apologize. we thought they were capable of being more than they were. and if so. to have good relationships. If the answer is no. It’s a question of balance. NOT to let them continue harming us by our trying to re-create history. That’s the experience of those who have made amends. but perhaps you can think of alternative amends that might be made that could at least mend some harm. so you can figure out a priority for making the various amends you have to make. Although they seem to be scary. What have our Steps Four and Five taught us about any harms we have done to that person? Remember that our own character defects are selfishness. Sometimes. An amend for that is to stop having high expectations of them. I have a friend whose amend to her sexual abuser was to let him alone––he was old and decrepit and was. the more you want to finish them. Mom? Listen. I have a friend who found it necessary to tell her relatives who had children about the sexual abuse she suffered from a relative who was still around and still spending time with the children of those relatives. We should have stopped what they were doing BEFORE it got worse. If we wanted to stop a child from stepping off a cliff. less intensely. and fear. I hated you for 20 years and I just want to apologize for that.

Sorry. Living Amends: Living amends are just that. and have concluded that it would be selfish of me to speak to them out of the blue in that way. We must not shrink at anything. because I think that kind of gossip makes fun of someone who is not well. but to show—that I’m a better person than I was. the Big Book suggests on page 76 : “If we haven’t the will to do this. and I don’t think it’s right to make fun of people who are not well. We may lose our position or reputation or face jail. but I no longer do. of course. I might phone and see if she wanted to go for coffee. to think more of others. And the next go-around makes the once”Never” amends into “Now” amends. I’m not a perfect husband or father. What about amends we can’t make—people who are dead. the person to whom it is made. all the “Sometimes” amends become “Now” amends.” Note that the form provided later in this chapter has those well-known (and well-used) columns of “Now”. But what I do do is no longer gossip about him or anyone else. depending on how ready a person is to do that amend.” Those are examples of amends we could make but shouldn’t make.hurt. The person then does all the “Now” amends. and I don’t always know what the right course of action is. There are many such situations. Step Eight Prayers: The Big Book gives us Step Eight prayers. of course. In my own life. The principle is very simple––once we make a few amends we experience such a lightness of being that we know how important it is to finish them up. they have proved to be useful for many people. please give me the strength and direction to do the right thing.” But that person doesn’t know I gossiped about him/her. and then perhaps get a feel for whether or not it might not be harmful to apologize. I’ve been working on this a long time. and (not surprisingly). 49 . but we are willing. “Look. We have to be. If we’re not willing to go to others and make amends. What works for one person may not work for another. and I hope that I’ve been able to show— not to say. I’ve decided. Although not found in the Big Book. ranging from just being serene because we know we’re ready to make amends. But the fact that I’m ready today to apologize makes me clean—I’m not the kind of person now who would do what I did 35 years ago! Or another example: I used to gossip about a particular person. Each amend is placed into one of the three categories. I won’t do it again. The direct amend that could be made was to say. and all the “Never” amends become “Sometimes” amends. we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing. Through Step 4 and 5 I realized how selfish.” And on page 79: Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience. I’m sorry.” I have to BECOME a better husband and a better father. and if I’m in a situation where people gossip about him/her. dishonest. God. This requires working through those areas where I was not a good husband and father and making certain that I’m doing what I should be doing. no matter what the personal consequences may be. I wasn’t such a good husband or father. that it would be harmful to apologize. there are some ex-girlfriends from over 35 years ago to whom I would like to apologize. for instance? There are many suggestions. I told true stories about you that have held you up to ridicule among your peers. no matter what the personal consequences may be. But I’ve learned to do more things around the house. not help. give me the will to do this. So our prayers are clear: “God. and frightened I was in relation to that person. “Sometimes” and “Never”. “Oops. we ask until it comes. It’s similar to the Big Book’s example of not telling a spouse of an extra-marital affair if the spouse doesn’t know about it. I say something like. “I used to gossip about him/her. to having imaginary conversations with them. to doing symbolic things like writing them letters and scattering the pieces to the winds or going to their gravestones. self-seeking. after not having spoken to them for that length of time? Or to remind them of something they might have forgotten? Might it not be harmful to them? What right do I have to do something for my own benefit that might harm them? I have consulted with sponsors over the years. If I’m ever in a city where one of them lives. making fun of his/her foibles. again after consulting with sponsor over the years. It is not sufficient for me to say to my wife or my children. But what right do I have to enter into their lives now.

that neither the Big Book nor the steps themselves ever talks about making amends to ourselves. that we’ll get that promotion. One thing I know for certain. The rabbi gets up and says.” and falls onto the floor. I am no longer like that. considerate and humble without being servile or scraping. “Yes. before You I am nothing. When we realize this. That’s the “only” amend—but it’s a huge one. But if you look at the Big Book approach. Seven. “God. and we realize that without making amends it will be impossible for our defects to be removed. “I have to learn to say ‘no’” or “I can’t run myself ragged without taking time for myself”—quite commendable concepts. Five.” What peace that brings! Amends to myself? Note. It is a matter of the right attitude. Six. we don't crawl before anyone. before You I am nothing. but God willing. But that really comes down to people saying. We are NOT the people who did the things we are making amends for. I am nothing. we’ve said “no”. because many of us have been enablers and people-pleasers who have said yes for the wrong reasons and have thereby allowed other people to harm us. “God. There is no greater amend. As God's people we stand on our feet. then what use are we to the compulsive eater who still suffers? Of course we have to take care of ourselves. I am nothing. Remember that until we do this. We can be reborn.The questions will be asking you to give examples of working out difficult issues and figuring out what the amends should be for other people’s benefits. not to be nice to ourselves. The town beggar gets up and says. which is often said in OA meetings. we see that having those defects of character removed by making the amends means that we are becoming entirely DIFFERENT people from what we were. at page 83. which is to focus on others rather than ourselves. by the way. To have those character defects removed is to place us in direct relationship with our higher power. but we’ve said it for the right reasons—to help others. And I believe the reverse is true—that if our motives are not pure. then our motives will be as pure as they can be. We won’t be removing them—that’s the miracle from our higher power—but we will be taking the actions necessary to have them removed. We often hear people talk about “the biggest amend I have to make is to myself”. The only amend we make to ourselves is to have our higher power remove those character defects which stand in the way of our useful to our higher power and to our fellows. to the best of our abilities. the congregation is praying to God during Yom Kippur––the highest of all holy days. we are messengers of the greatest message in the world— recovery through the Twelve Steps. I used to be like that. And if we run ourselves ragged. I am nothing. tactful. If we have done Steps Four. you will see how this concept of an “amend to myself” is consistent with what’s been discussed above. before You I am nothing. which block us from our higher power. We may have temporary release. what our attitude must be: We should be sensible. that we’ll get credit for doing the right thing— then what we say or do will NOT be the right thing to say or do. and have worked out the harms we have done and are ready to make the amends for those harms. AND themselves. It is that we are trying to be rid of the things in ourselves. If we make amends to them by not being enablers and not being people-pleasers. Now that attitude comes from one major spot.” and falls onto the floor. and what we say or do for the other person will BE the right thing to say or do.” and falls onto the floor. so we have to An example of false humility: In a small town in Russia in the late 1800s. making amends becomes a matter of extreme urgency. our defects of character. we are not freed from the foods we know cause our cravings. others. That is why we stand on our feet and don’t crawl before anyone. “God. but it cannot constitute the recovery we’re seeking until we have begun working these steps. The Big Book tells us. if we think of ourselves and hope that if we make amends the other person will apologize for what he or she did. More than that. The richest man in town gets up and says. Of course we have to learn to be honest and to say no. in a small synagogue. The rich man whispers to the rabbi: “Look who thinks he’s nothing!” 50 .

Here are the Hidden Promises. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality safe and protected. which many of us know well. We are not fighting it. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. found on pages 84 and 85: And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone . We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. The Promises: And the Big Book FINALLY gives us really good promises. For by this time sanity will have returned.even alcohol. Halfway through Step Nine come the Promises (page 83). These are true promises! Look how they promise nothing about our environment or our financial situation or anything practical. If tempted. [9] Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. and can live in the present with serenity and love.” What marvellous promises they are! And they do come true. [2] We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. (By the way. Step Four—we have learned about our character defects. and we will find that this has happened automatically. I put my fork down between bites. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. we will see how our experience can benefit others. That is our experience. Step Five—some better ones—we will feel at peace and ease. It does not exist for us. and not on ourselves.take care of ourselves to make certain that others can hear that message. we recoil from it as from a hot flame. [4] No matter how far down the scale we have gone. [3] We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. The mental obsession/insanity has been released from us. We react sanely and normally. We haven’t had great ones up to now (Step Three—an effect will be felt. We have not even sworn off. neither are we avoiding temptation. sometimes slowly. But the FOCUS is on helping others and making amends to others. We’re finally sane! I recently ate one of the most memorable meals of my life. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. the problem has been removed. [6] We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. and that we are now able to learn from the past instead of dwelling on it in misery. This is what we’ve been waiting for! This is why we joined OA in the first place. people keep trying to find Twelve Promises. I actually savored each bite of the asparagus spears and the baby carrots served with the entree. Instead. [11] We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. It is precisely the promise of the Appendix on Spiritual Experience: we have had “a profound alteration” in our “attitude to life. [1] We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. [7] Self-seeking will slip away. Every single piece of every single dish was cooked to perfection. none for Steps Six and Seven). [12] They will always materialize if we work for them. They are being fulfilled among us––sometimes quickly. The “Hidden” Promises: Now. Simple but exquisite tastes filled my mouth. [10] We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. [8] Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. What they basically say is that we have had a spiritual awakening that has made us into different people. There are three different ways of finding them. we will be amazed before we are half way through. I’m giving my favorite way.) If we are painstaking about this phase of our development. [5] That feeling of uselessness and selfpity will disappear. with the promise of a spiritual awakening halfway through Step Nine comes the fulfillment of the promise made to the compulsive eater in Step Two—that the miracle will happen and our trigger foods and eating behaviors will not longer tempt us. 51 . We will seldom be interested in liquor.

It’s not hard to compare this experience with what eating used to be like before I achieved this sanity. have the Promises and the Hidden Promises come true for you? Describe it. therefore. 52 . and now we’re released from that mental obsession so we are protected.” In the next chapter. and did any of those things matter after you made them? If you have been silent about harms done to you. will relieving that silence help those who did harm or not? Are there. Conclusion: Done the Big Book way. No. but which you felt overall were better to do for their sake than not to do? For those of you have done your amends.oabigbook. · · The Hidden Promises come true. or have there been. even if I never recaptured the initial pleasure. amends you felt compelled to make which potentially placed others at risk of harm. Sure. and we have got our relief before our mental obsession overcame us and we returned to our trigger foods and eating behaviors. We’ve pushed on from Steps Five through Nine quickly. But the rest of my eating was an attempt to recapture the initial pleasure. eating before I finished Step Nine was not a happy experience! The next page is a simple form for Steps Eight and you can download the Step 8 & 9 form and fill it in on your computer using Adobe Reader. My cravings forced me to continue eating until nothing was left. There was a kind of desperation to my eating. This is great joy! Those are REAL amends to ourselves! Questions: Here are some questions: · For those of you who have made amends. we’ll study the first and the second of the three steps that keep us in fit spiritual condition—Steps Ten and Eleven. do you see how that silence has harmed those who did harm to you? And if so. this has taken us only a few weeks or months. 1935. At www. what were your greatest worries before you made those amends. · A replica of the church directory which Bill Wilson looked at in the Mayflower Hotel on May 11. but the Big Book cautions us on page 85: “That is how we react SO LONG as we keep in fit spiritual condition. my first bite might have given me the same kind of pleasure as my first bite of the asparagus spear.

STEP EIGHT AND NINE LIST Ready to do the Amend(s)… This form is not taken in its entirety from the Big Book. Restitution. Continue this process until you complete all items on your Ninth Step. Public Acknowledgement. and the Sometimes into Nows. but is a useful guide. Fill out the form directly from the saved copies of your Fourth Step Inventory worksheets. Possible Amend(s) for that harm (Apology. move the items from the “Sometime?” column to “Now?” and the “Never!” items to “Sometime?” You’ll find that the Nevers have turned into Sometimes. Living) Name of person harmed: Harm done to that person: Will this Amend Someharm that person Now? Never! time? or anyone else? 53 . Complete all Amends marked in the “Now?” column. When done.

Yet that feeling of neutrality. that summary means Step Ten (Clean House). which was that after I lost my weight I could eat ANYTHING in moderation. there had been a number of times when I was trying to stay away from my trigger foods. and I yelled at my kids or began to feel bad about something. though. As I began to recover using the Big Book approach. That’s all I thought I should do. resentment. but I still found rationalizations to return to them—the “mental obsession” that I also discussed at length in Step One. We will become insane again. If you look at those instructions. a problem for me. resentment. I realized the mistake I had made. we ask God at once to remove them.” If we do not keep in fit spiritual condition. The Big Book ends those promises with a very clear warning: “That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition. and fear. I was reading it “on the wall”—“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. so I “took back” foods that I had eliminated during my weight-loss time. Here’s the annotated version of the same instructions: Continue to watch for selfishness. Why was this? I was meditating—had five meditation books and said my prayers. So Step Ten is Steps Four through Nine done in the context of recovery. That’s all I did. recovery and relapse. Five. resentment. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. and Nine. How do we keep in fit spiritual condition? You might recall Dr. The “hidden promises” were true. Why was this mental obsession returning? Why were my “best” efforts not to eat these foods being undermined by my complete lack of will? I discovered the reason by looking back on how I felt right after I had completed Step Nine each time I went through the steps after my relapses. of power over food. I had fallen prey to the notion that all the diets I had ever been on. When these crop up. we ask God at once to remove them. dishonesty. This happened until I was finally introduced to the Big Book’s approach to recovery. Step Eleven (Trust God). and fear. Help Others. But how was I doing Step Ten? Well. dishonesty. Bob’s summary of the Twelve Steps: “Clean House. and all the “experts” I read. Step Twelve (Help Others). told me. except we’ve recovered and we’re trying to keep that recovery. and soon found that I was gorging on them. Here are the Big Book’s instructions for Step Ten: Continue to watch for selfishness. I was sponsoring and giving service galore. we will relapse. Clearly that’s what the Big Book is talking about!] When these crop up. The first was that I had refused to accept that there were certain foods and eating behaviors that caused me uncontrollable cravings—the notion of the “allergy of the body” that I discussed at length in our discussion of Step One.” We will find that once we have recovered. dishonest. As I began to study the Big Book’s approach and learned. Food wasn’t 54 .Steps Ten and Eleven— Introduction: We ended our discussion of Step Nine with the Hidden Promises of pages 84 and 85. When I Step Ten: For my first six years in program. I discovered two things that were the main cause of my relapses. So Steps Eleven and Twelve were covered. dissipated quickly and I went back to it after a few months. I apologized. with the help of great teaching tapes. [STEP FOUR—In Step Four we encountered the concepts of “selfishness. Seven. and fear”. We do exactly what we did in Steps Four through Nine. The second. Our mental obsession will return. I went through a cycle of recovery and relapse. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Right after Step Nine I felt absolutely great. you will see pretty clearly that they are really the equivalent of doing Steps Four. Six. I was placed in a position of complete neutrality. I analyzed what had gone wrong in my first six years. Trust God.” So as life went on. and tried to eat them in moderation. to look beyond the steps “on the wall” and read the Big Book’s actual instructions. [STEPS EIGHT AND NINE] Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. was far more serious. I admitted it. Eight. [STEPS SIX AND SEVEN] We discuss them with someone immediately [STEP FIVE] and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone.

for the most part. They’re both done in the context of recovery. Step Five provides less insights. and then a Six and a Seven. What I usually find is that my amends turn out to be living amends. and then a lot more. it’s for the big things that you haven’t been able to capture during your evening meditations. But I still do Step Five and Six and Seven and then make amends quickly. 12. 6 7. we had a feeling of uselessness. we were full of fear. I usually find that something has been going on in my life that is bugging me and I haven’t really noticed it or given it much thought. I’ll talk more about that in a little while. Understanding that is the whole point to understanding Step Ten! I have a simple twelve-point checklist (it just happened to be 12!) for when I do a Step Ten. Am I restless? (Doctor’s Opinion) Am I irritable? (Doctor’s Opinion) Am I discontented? (Doctor’s Opinion) Am I having trouble with personal relationships? (Bedevilments) Can I not control my emotional natures? (Bedevilments) Am I a prey to misery and depression? (Bedevilments) Can I not make a living? (Bedevilments) Do I have a feeling of uselessness? (Bedevilments) Am I full of fear? (Bedevilments) Am I unhappy? (Bedevilments) Am I not of real help to other people? (Bedevilments) Is my food or quantity of food getting sloppy? If the answer to any one or more of these questions is YES. because I’ve already become clear about what my defects of character are. We’ve already had the miracle. we were a prey to misery and depression. and had no fears for the future. that when I finish the Step Four part of the Step Ten I’ve already got most of my insights into what’s been bugging me. we couldn't seem to be of real help to other people”. 11. You’ll recall that when we discussed Step Four. 55 . (Often I will just grab the last recovered person leaving my regular meeting. and I figure out and then do my amends. and just ask for ten minutes of his or her time to do the Step Five part of my Step Ten. I pointed out that the complete inventory is really not just Step Four.finished Step Nine. 5. but Steps Four through Nine. and a Step Ten doing Steps Four through Nine. and make amends for any mistakes I have made. The Step Eleven evening meditation is done at night to review the day you’ve had. PAST that I have to deal with. I do a Step Five. 10. however. and sex conduct issues that have accumulated since you last did a Step Four through Nine or a Step Ten. realize my character defects. How do we keep it? Here’s what I’ve come down to. share it with another human being. Step Ten. we couldn't control our emotional natures. so I had to consider what the difference is between a nighttime Step Eleven meditation doing Steps Four through Nine. 8. I look at The Doctor’s Opinion and find the words “They are restless. I had dealt with my past.” I look at page 52 in We Agnostics and find the Bedevilments: “We were having trouble with personal relationships. 4. ask my higher power to remove them. And I get clean again and the answers to all the above twelve questions is a resounding NO and I get the promises again! I also find. But each minute and day and week AFTER I finished my Step Nine means a little bit. As we’ll see in the discussion of Step Eleven immediately following. 2. we were unhappy. we couldn't make a living. the nighttime meditation also has the equivalent of Steps Four through Nine. 3. So my Twelve Step checklist for when I do a Step Ten is: 1. then it’s time for me to clean house again. So I take out my Step Four forms and I fill them out. 9. by the way.) My amends are usually living amends. In other words. I also look at my food issues. irritable and discontented until they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks. is designed to deal with the resentments. and the only way I can deal with it is to do what I did successfully before— write it out. fears.

at any rate! 56 . and someone may very well have created a great fake to circulate on the Web.So Step Ten isn’t as dramatic as Steps Four through Nine. instead of writing those issues down in column 1. On the other hand.something I would clearly do if I were doing that in Step Four. It clears your thinking! It’s because of this approach to Step Ten that I haven’t had a relapse for over thirteen years. Bob. unfortunately following the path I led for my first six years in program! I urge you—whenever you feel stressed out or kind of icky or food begins to become attractive—do a Step Ten by repeating Steps Four through Nine! This may or may not be a real “prescription” signed by Dr. This has given me much deeper insight into the issues. I was trying to make a decision as to whether or not to change my career. and then some points in column 2 like “I’m bored”. when I get around to column 2. since Dr. Bob often said what’s written here. What I’ve been doing lately in Step Ten is putting down as separate resentments the ideas I would normally put down as reasons for the resentments. But I sure do recommend it for major issues that you have to deal with in Step Ten. I wouldn’t recommend this for Step Four. and writing down why those issues are in my mind in column 2. A copy of his prescription pad is available. I ask myself why these resentments are on my mind. In Step Eleven we Trust God. For example. But Step Ten becomes essential to keep my house clean! I call this a Step Ten! It is NOT Steps Four through Nine. Then. Bob’s prescription for Life is our guide! Refining Step Ten: One thing I’ve been doing lately with really powerful results is to use the Step Four Resentment form a little differently. In Step Ten we Clean House. when I’m learning so much about myself and where I’m really cleaning out the past respecting actions I’ve taken in the past. it is precisely those who have not done Step Ten on a regular basis who have relapsed. because I’m going deeper and deeper into my motivations and attitudes to life. instead of putting “my career” down in column 1. because those are the steps that BRING us to recovery by allowing our higher power to remove our defects of character and give us sanity. I’ve been taking what I would normally put down in column 2 and putting each one of those points as a separate point in column 1. In a Step Four I often would write down “My career” in column 1. we keep our sanity and our closeness to our higher power by doing Step Ten. Step Four is to deal with the big stuff. For some very significant issues in my life. instead I’ll put down “I’m bored” and “I want to feel more useful” and “I’m worried about making money” into column 1. In Step Twelve we Help Others. Now that we have recovered. When I look at the journeys of people I have sponsored. “I’m worried about making money” -. it may be real. For example. Dr. It’s great to look at. “I want to feel more useful”.

I just want to point out a few things. Why is the nighttime prayer and meditation discussed first? Interestingly enough. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. The Big Book has three kinds of prayers and meditations. a double life. inspiration. and the first three paragraphs on page for that would diminish our usefulness to others. The evening prayer and mediation: The evening prayer and meditation is really a Step Four through Nine inventory. for alcohol is a subtle foe. This is what we do just before we go to sleep. “It would be easy to be vague about this matter. and someone must have pointed out to Bill that it would be far wiser to review the day just when we’re going to sleep. On page 84: It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. Clearly the intent. We have lived. whether done before we go to sleep or when we wake up. selfish. it’s not in the same order. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. is to be clear about how we spent the day just passed. isn’t it? Here’s the annotated version: Were we resentful. As I said in the discussion of Step Ten. and I respect them tremendously. [STEPS SIX AND SEVEN] Sure. They are very spiritual people. If you have downloaded the Step Eleven form to be found at www.oabigbook. of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry. The Big Book’s warning about needing to keep in fit spiritual condition begins its discussion of Step Eleven. in effect. Now we have to live according to the dictates of our higher power. ‘How can I best serve Thee . that we don’t do a “Step Five” unless we have to––the question is whether we have “kept Specific Directions: The Big Book contains specific directions. it was a triple or quadruple life. as discussed in the last two paragraphs on page 86. using any number of powerful meditation techniques. We are not cured of alcoholism. we believe we can make some definite and valuable suggestions. as discussed in the first full paragraph on page 86.’ These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. in my case. at the very least.Step Eleven: And now Step Eleven. so I’m not going to go over those specific instructions. though. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken. The third is what we do during the daytime. The second is what we do on awakening. (A “reprieve” is a suspension of a death sentence!) The Big Book then talks about “receiving strength. and direction” from our higher power. It is the proper use of the will. The first is what we do on going to sleep. The whole concept is to develop a “vital sixth sense” that gives us a direct connection to the power which is greater than we are. Yet. or look at the form following this chapter. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. I know many people who spend an hour or two meditation in the morning.” (page 86) These suggestions are. We are trying to learn to act intuitively—directly from our hearts with the purest of motives. the original manuscript had us review the day before when we woke up in the morning. maybe even in bed. you will see how that form provides all specific instructions from pages 86 to 88 (plus a few others). remorse or morbid reflection. but the actions are very similar. Note. the MINIMUM we should be doing. discussed in the last paragraph on page 87. But at the minimum they also do what the Big Book suggests! 57 . We are headed for trouble if we do. dishonest or afraid? [STEP FOUR] Do we owe an apology? [STEPS EIGHT AND NINE] Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? [STEP FIVE] Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others. at times. I think this Steps Four through Nine is done informally. but certainly not necessarily with pen and paper.Thy will (not mine) be done. going on to page 88.

and how we can do better. I work what I would call a “good enough” program. We don’t struggle. We review our past day to see how we did. The emphasis on the evening prayer and mediation is to figure out what I could do better for the next day. I know that many people who work the steps the Big Book way do their Steps Four through Nine every night by writing and analyzing their day and phoning their sponsors. we pray for “inspiration. you simply maintain your fit spiritual condition through Steps Ten. The morning prayer and meditation: Planning our day ahead on awakening is pretty clear. remembering every little thing that happened to us that day and analyzing it. how do you feel about the notion that. they find that they hear their God’s directions very very clearly! The daytime prayer and meditation: And the daytime prayers! There are times when I have to repeat “Thy will not mine be done. is it possible that you failed to continue to clean house by doing Step Ten? Do you see a distinction between Step Ten and the sleep-time prayer and meditation? How do you feel about the notion of praying for the right thought or action or decision. It is not introspective. But it works! Following this page is the Step Eleven form. In other words. That’s at least how I do it. and those of them I know are really more spiritual than I am. We’re given wonderful instructions for clearing our mind and thinking through things with the best of motives. if we “face indecision”. The most wonderful and freeing thing is the instruction that if we don’t know what we should be doing. the Serenity Prayer. and the experience of countless hundreds of people I’ve talked to over the years. So there’s a difference. you don’t go through the steps again? · · · · · 58 . and that the sleep-time prayer and meditation includes a full Step Ten. can you suggest some short prayers “which emphasize the principles we have been discussing”? How do you feel about the concept that once you have recovered at Step Nine. we will probably deal with most of the difficult things in our lives on a day-to-day basis. at least from a psychological point of view. then it will do a great job for us! And for those who are more religious. Francis Prayer (from Step Eleven in the AA 12 & 12). I just find it more convenient to work it this way. But ultimately my big issues with my children will almost certainly be dealt with in a Step Ten. in effect. we’re letting our subconscious take over. At least that’s been my experience.something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once”. I might be irritated day to day by my children and deal with those irritations in my Step Eleven sleep-time prayer and meditation. They have decided that Step Ten is to be done every night. and if our subconscious is filled with good motives. and then just letting go? The Big Book suggests at page 87 that for our awakening prayers “we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. In effect. and Twelve.” (Page 86) It is truly remarkable what happens when we do it this way. And it certainly works for them. and the St. an intuitive thought or a decision” and then “we relax and take it easy.” over and over and over again until I calm down and get some sense of direction. listing all the prayers that the Big Book sets out. The more carefully we do this. But I find that doing that doesn’t give me the kind of overview I need to look at all the biggest things in my life.” Aside from the Step Three and Seven prayers. Eleven. Questions: Here are some questions: · If you’re not up to Step Ten yet. Thy will not mine be done. Thy will not mine be done. Maybe we haven’t. so they probably know more than I do. do you see the correlation between Steps Four through Nine and Step Ten? If you’ve relapsed in the past.

I a sk you for in spir a tio n . p a ge s 87-8. On retiring at night . constructivel y review your day: · · · · 59 · · God. Constantl y re mind yourself : I a m n o lon ger r u n n in g th e sh ow. page 99). I a sk for _____' s h ea lth . Think about the twenty-four hours ahead. the Serenity Prayer. pr ay: Th y will be don e . toler a n ce. Th y will be don e . or a deci si on . I pr a y th a t I be given wh a tever I n eed to ta ke ca r e of su ch pr oblems. t he St. pray: God. Fr ancis Prayer (AA 12&12. Th is is a sick ma n . I a sk th a t I be given str en gth on ly if oth er s will be h elp ed. Consider your plans for the day… If you are faced wi th indecision. I a sk th a t you sh ow me th e wa y of pa tien ce. remorse or mor bi d refl ection. the Step 7 Pra yer (page 76). I a sk es pecia lly for fr eedom fr om self-will . self ish. H ow ca n I be h elpf u l to h im? God sa ve me fr om bei n g a n gr y. or any other p rayer. Say to yo urself many ti mes each day: Big Book . . I pr a y th a t I be sh own a ll th r ou gh th e da y wh a t my n ext step is to be. wh a t ca n I do toda y for th e ma n wh o is still sick? (page 164) If you have resentment t hat you want to be free of. for t hat would di mini sh your use fulness to others. On awakenin g pray: God. plea se give me th e r igh t th ou gh t or a ction E ven in g P r a yer a n d M ed it a t ion Da ily P r a yer & M ed it a t ion s Big Book . di sh on est or self-see kin g motives. I especia lly a sk th a t my th in kin g be divor ce d fr om self-pity. Pa ge 67 (if a person offends you): Be careful not to drift into worr y. of what you could pack into the strea m of life? Pa ge 85 (tho ughts which mus t go with you co ns tantl y): H ow ca n I best ser ve th ee? Th y will (n ot min e) be don e. dishone st or afraid? Do you owe an apology? Have you kept something to yourself which should be discussed with another person at once? Wer e you ki nd and loving toward all? What could you have done better? Were you thinking of yourself most of the time? Or were you thinking of what you cou ld do for others. After c onsidering your plans for the day. · Wer e you rese ntful . I a sk you to dir ect my th in kin g. Afte r making your re view: God. p a ge 86. plea se for give me a n d tell m e wh a t cor r ective mea su r es s h ou ld be ta ken .ST EP 11 PR AYER S AN D M EDITAT ION S M or n in g P r a yer a n d M ed it a t ion Big Book . a n d h a ppin ess (pa ge 552) Also select and memorize a few set pra yers which emphasize t he principles in the Big Book. I a sk th a t ever yt h in g I wa n t for myself be given _____. such as the Step 3 Prayer (page 63) . a n in tu itive th o u gh t. p a ges 86-7. pray: When agitate d or doubtful: God. kin dlin ess a n d love (pa ge 83) God. Also say the foll owin g prayers: My cr ea tor. pr osper ity.

Ohio. not too waste our time thinking about ourselves. as the Big Book makes very clear. the awakening one in five minutes. No. of course.’ The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve. The Big Book does not seem to wants us to spend a lot of time on internal thinking. our Step Tens are done when we begin not to feel so spiritually. The three kinds of prayer and meditation of Step Eleven are really pretty quick too. where Bill Wilson met Dr.Conclusion to Steps Ten and Eleven: You can see that the Big Book leaves us plenty of time for doing things. ‘Faith without works is dead. The Big Book is all about action! If we do what the Big Book suggestions.” The gatehouse of the Sieberling estate in Akron. is to help others. our main job. There is action and more action. We can do the nighttime one in five minutes in bed. Keeping recovered doesn’t seem to take much time! That’s very true in one way. 60 . It’s not as if we spend a lot of time just meditating and praying. and the day-time ones in seconds. The Big Book warns us at the end of the chapter on page 88: “But this is not all. and doing them the Big Book way is pretty fast. Bob Smith. really.

” Eleven-twelfth measures avail us nothing either. says at page 89: “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. I was always judging myself against impossible criteria and finding myself wanting. we will relapse. Doctor Bob. He’s right! We find that carrying the message gives us a sense of purpose.” We are disabled people. 3. it turns out that carrying the message becomes. was the co-founder of AA: I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I know I’m giving of myself without hope of reward or gain. He says it’s a pleasure. to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that other people would and have said should be fulfilling. If we don’t help others. a sense of direction. Sense of duty. I do it for four reasons: 1. And the Step Seven prayer at page 76: “I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Bob says something else. and Thy Way of life. all of which we need in our lives. They can spend their spare time doing things they want to do for their own comfort and enjoyment. 4. We will go back to eating. we will surely die. Look at the Step Three prayer at page 63: “Take away my difficulties. It works when other activities fail. as many of you know. but purely so that victory over our difficulties will show those whom we want to help the power of our higher power. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip. Chapter 7 is basically a manual on how to do our job. It is a pleasure. you will see that they are really all about becoming fit to help other people. If you don’t believe that by now. and a sense of usefulness. to see a fellowship grow up about you. To watch people recover.” We ask that our difficulties be taken away not for our own sake. And if we go back to eating. But when I carry the message. for us.” If you look at the Step Three and the Step Seven prayers. (page 89) Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world. I don’t even have to be good at carrying the message to feel good about myself. Let me start with quoting Doctor Bob in Doctor Bob’s Nightmare. They don’t have addiction problems. Our job description is actually found on page 102: “Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others. It is the giving that is important. devoted entirely to Step Twelve. but I never felt fulfilled doing them. to watch loneliness vanish. Thy Love. But we cannot afford to do that. that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power. but if we don’t get active and carry the message. And the most awful things that have happened to us or that we may have done to others now become a 61 . we have “a new Employer”. Remember that at page 63 the Big Book tells us that when we follow the path of the steps. The Big Book expresses this last thought very clearly. one of the most significant things that we do. The beginning of Chapter 7. no matter what your present circumstances! (page 100) So even though we HAVE to carry the message. 2.” We ask that those defects of character which hinder us from helping others be taken away from us. to see them help others.Step Twelve—Introduction: Why we have to carry the message: On page 59 the Big Book tells us: “Half measures availed us nothing. Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me. Some Step Twelve Promises: Here are some promises of Step Twelve: Life will take on new meaning. We can do the steps from One through Eleven. go back and think about Step One! Dr. the first story after the text of the Big Book. Other—“normal”—people don’t have to do what we have to do. we will die. not how well the recipient is receiving the message. It’s that simple. I know that is certainly true for me.

were things that happened to someone we used to be. Just tell your stories. “You’re probably nothing like me. I go into details on the many reasons I always slip. these pages might come in very handy! Pages 91 to 95: The first meeting. etc. I’ll never have this taste again. or the harm we have done. I’ll only deal with a few points here. I want to emphasize this area. Pages 100 to 102: what recovery is like for us. I talk about how freeing it has been to be able to have ice cream in the house and not to want to eat it. They would go to psychiatric wards or to hospitals for alcoholics and talk and talk and talk to the alcoholics who still suffered. (I’ll translate them to compulsive eating. my most disgusting eating stories. that they can overcome whatever hands the past has dealt them! We must not forget.means of carrying the message of recovery to those who still suffer. from food to mouth. We’re lucky in OA and in the other twelve-step programs—people come to us.” (92) Talk about how you tried to stop but couldn’t.) Tell your eating stories in such a way that the other person understands. always undercut by my return to overeating. I feel depressed. Akron. and Cleveland. But if I moved to a place where there was 62 . Yet the Big Book’s instructions are actually quite different. in God's hands. I’ll spend a bit of time dealing with this. because it helps me in my program. but I realized that I was a compulsive eater. So there necessarily had to be instructions for finding the right person. I will often start off by saying that I appreciate the opportunity to tell my story. Pages 96 to 98: guidelines for dealing with a sponsee. I will often say something like. the dark past is the greatest possession you have––the key to life and happiness for others. Never comment on the other person. you will see that carrying the message was almost a full-time occupation for AA pioneers. but for those of you who don’t have OA in your area. Then talk about “how you finally learned that you were sick. I’ve been good the last year or month or week or day or hour.” You talk about this from the basis of recovery. and we don't have to find them. We have the ability to say to those who still suffer that recovery is around the corner for them. Then describe yourself as a compulsive eater. to watch other people eating foods that I used to binge on and be happy for them and not regret the fact that I can’t eat that stuff. Meaning has now been given to our suffering or to the harms we’ve done others. the Big Book says: Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now.. let’s first of all look at the Big Book’s instructions for carrying the message. Cling to the thought that. It’ll go to waste. they would take those alcoholics home and talk and talk and talk. Don’t say anything about what you did to stop. Pages 98 to 100: general issues and the family of the person who is working the steps. not to us. We are different from what we used to be. talk explicitly about the allergy of the body and the obsession of the mind. Remember that the Big Book was written when AA was only in New York. It was written as a textbook for those who did not have contact with AA and who did not have meetings to go to. The suffering we have undergone. “I’m standing up so it doesn’t count. I’ll analyze this in some detail below. I would follow the instructions on these pages.” It’s important that we recover in order to be ABLE to carry the message! With all that in mind. no OA. I then tell stories similar to the ones I told back in the first step—the hand going from food to mouth. I have worked on How to carry the message the Big Book way: If you look at the early history of AA. Etc. however. I won’t discuss these pages any more. With it you can avert death and misery for them. The actual instructions for explaining the program to the person who still suffers. and not being able to stop it. the Big Book’s statement on page 164: “you cannot transmit something you haven't got. The first meeting (91 to 95): The instructions are quite clear. Here’s the outline of the directions: Pages 89 to 91: Finding the alcoholics to give the message to. One of the Promises is that “we will see how our experience can benefit others.” And at page 124.” Ultimately. And after those alcoholics were released. and my various attempts to lose weight.

Then tell that person about the steps and how they worked for you. If the other person is interested. IF he or she wants! Other issues: Once we begin to sponsor a willing sponsee. how I couldn’t ever solve this problem on my own. They’ll come to meetings as hangers-on. “I don’t know about you. If you leave such a person alone. For the religious people you tell them that their religion certainly hasn’t helped them at all. It may not be. and they’d better remember that “faith without works is dead”. Then “begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady. So if the other person isn’t interested. Basically. but I began to see how hopeless I was on my own. you give him or her some homework—read the Big Book—and let that person initiate the next meeting. We don’t try to recruit anyone.” (92) This is extremely important. So I’m thankful for the opportunity to talk. trying to rush that person into the program. But if the other person has ANY interest. So I will say something like. the Big Book makes it clear what our role is. That’s it. you don’t try to be a friend. explaining how you made a self-appraisal. We don’t tell everyone that OA is for them. It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. They have to feel desperation. The Big Book thus describes a pretty short conversation—maybe a few hours at the most. he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy.” If the other person doesn’t show interest. At this point the person will almost certainly be sharing his or her stories. You tell your story in such a way that the other person understands that you—not him or her but you— were in the grips of a hopeless illness. Just tell your story the best you can. after pleasantries. the initiative is up to the other person. thank the other person for letting you tell your story. You’ve made yourself available. you’ve conveyed information about yourself and told the other person that if he or she is interested “you will do ANYTHING to help” (page 95). and it’s up to the other person to make use of your knowledge. Here are some very important words on page 94: Outline the program of action. Nor should they come if they don’t feel desperate. I first tell the stories of my uncontrollable binge eating and my complete inability to stop once I’ve started. just leave. don’t try to convince him or her. say that if you can ever be of help. Page 96: We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. It’s pretty blunt stuff. and it’s our job to talk about that desperation. The Big Book talks about how to deal with the higher power issue with both agnostics and religious people on page 93. to tell my story. I couldn’t stop once I started to eat my binge foods. he may be helping you more than you are helping him. Then basically. The Big Book is clear that you don’t hold anything back. Actually. “He may be helping you more than you are helping him!” Of course that’s true. The Big Book cautions us against pushing the person at all. These are the two problems—my physical cravings (allergy) and my mental obsession. For the agnostics you tell them that’s no problem— it’s their own conception of a higher power. A person who wants to follow the path we took 63 . how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. I now tell my eating stories in such a way that they illustrate the two-fold nature of the problem. Then I tell the stories of my yo-yo dieting and my complete inability to stop from starting again.telling my story that way. and actually quite different from what AAers did for the years prior to the publishing of the Big Book. and I couldn’t stop from starting again even if I’d managed to stop for a while. but not as real members. you leave! You don’t continue the conversation. And you go into detail about the inventory. That explained my yo-yo dieting. that person will ask you how you recovered. We’re there to share our experience on how to do the steps. that you don’t sugar-coat the steps. and then leave. I get something out of talking to the other person whether or not that person gets anything out of me. you’re available. It explained why I felt so defeated. This is pretty different from other methods of carrying the message I’ve experienced in OA. Then it’s up to the other person.

hours. there is something the matter with his spiritual status. the actual total meeting time can vary between five and fifteen hours. The longest time is usually spent on Step Five. and then meeting with the sponsee and leading the sponsee through what he or she has read. People have said we must not go where liquor is served. or whether they phone me at 4:00 a. It’s not up to us to help the individual. That’s their problem and their responsibility. still has an alcoholic mind. but I am suggesting that. our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses. But whether they do phone me every day. if you find yourself overloaded as a sponsor and unable to sponsor other people. [For Big Book trivialists. the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God. Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. (pages 100-101) 64 . I take that very seriously. I tell them that between the time they adopt a plan of eating (become abstinent) and the time they finish Step Nine. I don’t REQUIRE them to do anything. (no one ever has!) is up to them. 1993. and I don’t feel guilty if they sink. The Big Book cautions us about having the other person become dependent on us. (I turned one down once before I really studied the Big Book. BEFORE they eat that doughnut. If that means they phone me every not following us. but even then the approach I’ve described doesn’t usually take more than three. We have to make certain that the people we sponsor do the steps. this is the shortest sentence in the Big Book!] Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job . I show them the way I was taught.m. and having the sponsee follow those directions. claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. they don’t check in with me. spread over three to six meetings. I’m just there to share my experience. and they can work through those steps however quickly or slowly they want to. I don’t do much phone-call sponsoring. I don’t think I’ve ever turned down a sponsee. That makes for pretty efficient sponsoring. but generally it works itself out. they can do that. we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes. maybe they’ll get more desperate the next time and work harder. not mine. because relapse is just around the corner. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house. This is an important message.wife or no wife .we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.) It has made for some work. Page 98: The minute we put our work on a service plane. we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. And they can be assured from me as much support as necessary. he or she is following the path we were taught by others.m. I’m not suggesting that everyone should sponsor the way I do. Since I’ve been in recovery beginning sometime in May. They do the work. I think. We meet these conditions every day. or phone me at 4:00 a. we must not have it in our homes. If they sink. I sponsor by working through the Big Book. Nonsense. They sink or swim on their own. The Promises of Recovery: The Big Book’s promise of recovery is quite clear and quite unconditional: Assuming we are spiritually fit. we must not go into bars.) I work with them to develop a plan of eating that makes sense to them. They don’t phone me every day. I meet with my sponsees face to face. We have to make certain that they don’t rely on us. pointing out the directions contained in the book. you begin to analyze how you sponsor to see if there is a more efficient way. because I don’t end up spending a great deal of time with my sponsees. and let them do the work. Depending on the individual sponsee’s ability to read and to retain what he or she has read. An alcoholic who cannot meet them. (I caution them from my own experience how dangerous it is to work the steps slowly. we mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. When you come down to it. I tell them I’ll do anything to help them keep abstinent. we must shun friends who drink. He clamors for this or that. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so. I’m there to help them work through the steps. this method of sponsoring really means having the sponsee read the Big Book. they are in a race to finish Step Nine before their mind persuades them to relapse. maybe four. I don’t.

We ask ourselves if we have “any good social. then we’re shaky and we’d better find another compulsive eater to talk to! Questions: Here are a few questions for those who are ready to carry the message: · Imagine you’re meeting with a newcomer after a meeting who has only a few minutes to talk. How would you carry the message to that person? You may be the only example of the program someone who still suffers ever meets. then we attend to that reason. business or personal reason for going to this place?” (page 101) If we do.THIS is what the compulsive eater who still suffers wants to hear! There is no longer any fear. If we don’t. How do you impart your recovery? How do you sponsor? Are you overwhelmed and aren’t available to those who still suffer? Are the people you sponsor more dependent upon you than upon the steps and their higher power? · · 65 . This is what distinguishes a Twelve-Step program from any other program that deals with addictions—the actual freedom to be around the addictive substance or behavior and not want to indulge in it! And the Big Book gives us guidelines for going to places where there is eating.

We should neither Service is different from twelfth step work: Step Twelve tells us we have to carry the message. Not at all. and we must carry that message to the best of our abilities. As the Big Book reminds us. What kind of a message to the newcomer in our room. The second is the one the compulsive eater who still suffers has never had from any other diet program—the spiritual sanity that provides freedom from food. Now normalcy has two parts. That is phoning people and meeting people between meetings. to lose weight if he or she is overweight. how they have recovered. There is also the work of keeping OA alive. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. That isn’t a very effective message either. We have to model both of those if we are to be of maximum helpfulness to others. setting up the chairs. That is leading workshops. We can be the OA equivalent of dry drunks—white-knuckle abstainers. Recovery from compulsive eating is a product of the spiritual awakening we have received from the Twelve Steps. or World Service. In this chapter I might be kind of provocative. being a healthy normal weight does not necessarily provide the message either. That is speaking to newcomers or members who are still suffering after the meeting. We can use OA as a diet support group without doing the steps. we must carry the message to the compulsive eater who still suffers. they can sponsor beautifully. That is sponsoring. What I am talking about. That is speaking at workshops. getting involved in Intergroup. or the person who has been coming for some time but hasn’t yet worked the steps. The responsibility for achieving a healthy body weight: If we are to be of maximum helpfulness to others. If I am.” And the promises of this recovery are the freedom from the bondage of self and the freedom from the bondage of food. publicizing meetings. We have to have recovered from the freedom of the bondage of food and of self. And there are people whose medical condition is such that they can lose no more weight. and we’re happy. however—and I have myself been an example of this—are people who talk about how they have been members of this program for a long time. And it’s my experience that neither is it the steps without working toward a healthy body weight. and to gain weight if he or she is underweight. That’s what Step Twelve is about.” (page 85) Although we have recovered. It is certainly not weight loss without the steps. making the coffee. The first is the practical one—the certainty that working the steps will allow that person to look normal. The question they must ask themselves––as I asked myself––is how well they are carrying the message. and is losing weight. That is unlocking the door. “we have recovered from a seemingless hopeless state of mind and body. “we are not cured of alcoholism. Take a Step Four through Nine and call me in the morning! It’s all fun from here on in! We’ve recovered. 66 . Are they carrying the message to the best of their ability? I know when I was among them I was not carrying the message well. even if still morbidly obese. how food is no longer an issue for them. but if they have recovered. be living in fat serenity nor be white-knuckle abstaining We don’t have to be thin to sponsor. joyous. if we are not working towards a healthy body weight? The compulsive eater who still suffers wants one thing—normalcy. and free.” (page 85) The first two bulwarks of this reprieve are continuing to clean house (Step Ten) and trusting in our higher power (Step Eleven). Region. however. but who do not appear to have a healthy normal weight. On the other hand. The last bulwark is our job in life—to “be of maximum helpfulness to others” (page 102). That is speaking at meetings about our recovery.Step Twelve Continued: As the Foreword to the First Edition says. “it is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. A person who has 300 pounds to lose/release and who has recovered within months. is a tremendous inspiration. please just remember to take what you like (and maybe what you don’t like!) and leave the rest.

doing all this work wasn’t giving me any recovery whatsoever! I was doing harm to OA. A proper study of that tradition would put an end to a lot of debate that goes on in OA about “Tradition Violations”. paid the bills. I’m lucky to live in a city where there are OA meetings. I was frantically doing service to keep the meeting alive. are newcomers surrounded by people who want to help them. I don’t have to scour the food buffets or go to the eating disorder clinics to find someone to carry the message to. so of course OA wasn’t working for me. or are they ignored because longer-term members are talking to each other? Does the format stress doing the steps to reach recovery? Are there enough sponsors for the newcomers? Is there laughter? Is there a sense of recovery? Do people willingly pitch in? · · · · · Now that I’ve recovered. So there’s a big difference between service and Twelfth Step work! · · · · Are your meetings happy and joyous and free? Do they talk about recovery? Are they meetings where the very format itself discourages crosstalk and whining? At a break. When it became clear that the meeting was in trouble (I was the only constant attendee) I began to look at the reasons. and free. I just have to go to meetings to find someone to carry the message to. however. I was carrying a message of hopelessness. and it wasn’t far off—I simply had to look in the mirror! Sure. I was carrying the wrong message. The real issue in so many of those debates is whether or not something helps or hinders carrying the message. but the meeting was of no value because its only constant attendee was not carrying the message of recovery. joyous. I wasn’t working the steps. put up the signs. There’s a big difference. So I suggest you think about your meetings and how well they carry the message. We need people who work hard to figure out how to carry our message well. Let me give you an example. or at the end of the meeting. the Big Book describes how a newcomer sees an AA meeting: “He succumbed to that gay crowd inside. When I was relapsing. by talking the talk but not walking the walk. In and of itself doing this kind of work. and it was scaring away prospective members.Because the primary purpose of every meeting in OA and of OA itself is to carry the message. when you come down to it. arranged the chairs. is not carrying the message. But that doesn’t mean that every time someone does something different it’s automatically a “violation” of a tradition! 67 How do we carry the message in our meetings?: On page 133. We don’t need “Traditions Police” in our program. My service work was not getting me slim. who laughed at their own misfortunes and understood his. I was talking about how wonderful OA was. We can’t carry it well if we go against the traditions that provide us with unity.” . keeping OA alive through the meetings and the structure of OA is vitally important. Not just from that meeting. So newcomers who came to the meeting were scared off. What if you’re in a meeting that doesn’t in your opinion carry a message that grabs the newcomers? What are your options? Tradition Five tells us that the primary purpose of every OA meeting is to carry the message of recovery to those who still suffer. etc. Really. it is merely helping to keep alive a structure in which the message CAN be carried. I was responsible for a meeting. when it was apparent to everyone except me that OA wasn’t working for me. kept the meeting record. More than that. but probably from OA as a whole. I unlocked the door.” On page 160. I go to meetings not to get something from them but to give away what was so freely given to me. the Big Book tells us: “We are sure God wants us to be happy. As a matter of fact. But I was in relapse.

I think I can see the roots of the decline in a few things: · When the OA 12 & 12 came out. OA belongs to us. so-called “won’t power”. in fact we were simply reverting back to a natural growth. Maybe it’s a perfectly good meeting and you just have some control issues! (I know this is a real possibility. even our binge foods. They are missing marvellous opportunities to carry the message. and a growing sense of hopelessness among newcomers that other methods they’ve tried simply aren’t working. and perhaps some of its members. you risk isolation by not dealing with your resentments. The Board of Trustees put out the Twelfth Step Workbook and the Step Four Inventory Guide. You can mention the Big Book. Focusing on Tradition Five will assist in having people think about whether the group is doing well. has said clearly that no one should be restricted from speaking at any OA meeting because of a difference in approach to the program. As I look back in my years in OA. So when we “lost” members. that our only problem is control. This feeds into our mental obsession. We have (I have) a tendency to be wishy-washy and vague so no one is offended. and it is not a good meeting. We tend to be welcoming and supportive. We have to make certain that it reflects our best practices. We started to decline in the early 1990s. which is good. You can try to change the format of the meeting by asking for a business meeting and asking the meeting to go through a group inventory about how well the group is going. OA in general: OA has been going through some transition phases. I have been in correspondence with people who have said that they like online meetings because they don’t like the meetings available in their area. To grow quickly we ultimately need a lot of recovered members who will help those who still suffer. Many people stopped using the directions in the Big Book. You can carry the message your own way no matter what else the meeting is about. It is entirely possible that many people came into OA and didn’t do the steps and didn’t recover. can give! Consider as well that you may simply be wrong about that meeting. a meeting which is sick might be on its deathbed and it might be reasonable simply not to support it and let it die. or relapsed. that we don’t let it stray from its one message—that the Steps work! That’s why we have to get involved at all levels. into a Step 10 Resentment and Fear consideration. Unlike AA and most other Twelve-Step groups. The group conscience of OA. Only that gives me the clarity of mind to consider these options. 1. but we aren’t always direct. you have three major options. I think. 3.I would never consider the following options without putting that meeting. Our major growth didn’t necessarily mean major recovery. You can reach out to newcomers. just maybe. Sure. but our membership appears to be increasing these days. it needs a lot of love and honesty—it needs that unique quality that you. 68 . many people thought it replaced the Big Book. I do not recommend this option if there are no other meetings available. Sometimes our literature reflects that. much clearer literature that talks of recovery and the double whammy of the physical cravings and mental obsession. we have two major industries—the food industry and the diet industry—as well as professions—like dietitians and doctors—who try to persuade us that we can eat everything. You can simply not go to the meeting. in moderation. But probably—and especially if it’s the only meeting available to you—maybe. Back in the 1980s we had many more members than we have now. You may find yourself guided to get more involved rather than less involved. Moreover. the World Service Business Conference. including World Service. 2. We tend to be nice in OA. But if you’re right. as a recovered compulsive eater. both of them NOT Conferenceapproved. the members. to make certain that OA reflects our message of recovery. because it has been true for me!) You should discuss your feelings with someone you know who has what you want to see if you’re right or wrong about the quality of a meeting. You can make certain that your sharing focuses on recovery through the steps. · · · I think our increase in members now is attributable to a growing emphasis on the Big Book’s set of directions.

the consciousness of the presence of God is. but the bulk can be done relatively quickly.The Twelve Provocations: Here are twelve provocative propositions. ANNOTATION: All OA stands for is the Twelve Steps of Recovery. No one should be dependent on another person for recovery. not doing a tool. Although a sponsor. Sponsoring means you’ll be using the Telephone and going to Meetings and Sponsoring. and only then could I begin to find the power that has caused my recovery. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house. It’s because I work at being sane! 3. I had to surrender completely and admit that I was powerless. I am sane in relation to food. ANNOTATION: It is possible for most people. and Eight. not a recovering one. The Big Book uses “recovered” because that word shows a complete change in one’s attitude. which is Powerlessness. and Twelve. But the point is that you’re doing the STEPS. 2. I no longer have the illness I used to have. You DON’T take Steps One and Two. and then only to describe someone who is still working through the Steps and is not yet free from the bondage of addiction. The compulsive eater who still suffers deserves no less from me. " The point is that so long as I live on a spiritual basis working the Twelve Steps. 6. Then you should have recovered. Eleven. using the instructions in the Big Book. True. It is the advertisement to the compulsive overeater who still suffers.” 4. I am a RECOVERED compulsive eater. it’s a bite away. The point of this proposition is that no one should use the lack of sponsors as an EXCUSE not to do the steps. You can recover in WEEKS. Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The word “recovering” is used only once. Abstinence is NOT the most important thing in my life without exception. The Tools pamphlet is helpful if a person has adopted a plan of eating and has not yet recovered—in that case the Tools provide things for people to do instead of eating compulsively. ANNOTATION: The Big Book was written as a textbook for people who had no sponsors. You study them to understand the Problem (Step One). I have recovered from a seemingly hopeless condition of mind and body. But right now. ANNOTATION: Steps One and Two are acknowledgement steps. I am free from any temptation to return to the insanity of the food. Doing Step Four and Step Ten means that you’ll be Writing. and the Solution (Step Two). . Writing the Step Four can take a week or so. I am humbled by the clear knowledge that I was unable to accomplish this on my own. to finish off Step Nine within two months. for the moment. are done the same day as Step Five. with my annotations to show how I’ve arrived at each of the propositions: 1. Seven. 69 . is very important for recovery. Step Two is not even mentioned as a step in the text of the Big Book other than in the list of steps on page 59. 5. Step Nine may take a while simply because of the availability of people. I am not full of pride. ANNOTATION: In relation to a person who has worked the Twelve Steps and is free from the bondage of addiction. True. Not because I work at being abstinent. Working the Steps means you’ll be reading Literature. which is Power. It is true that working the steps may often involve using a tool. ANNOTATION: Page 51: "When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives . it’s a “daily reprieve contingent” on my spirituality. But the Big Book has no instructions for doing Steps One or Two. Its instructions work even if there are no sponsors available. but there’s not a lot of writing using the forms provided. Step Five using those forms (and not reading Columns Two and Three of the Resentment Form) shouldn’t take more than four or five hours. But the Tools are not a substitute for the steps. So long as I am sane. If working the steps is a priority for you—and it certainly should be if you are a member of OA!—you can make the time that’s necessary. Steps Ten. If I depend on a sponsor. a sponsor is not NECESSARY to recover. Steps Six. then where is my dependence on a higher power? Page 98: “we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God. What. Therefore I am abstinent. the Big Book consistently uses the word “recovered” and not “recovering”. takes time? Step Three is a prayer said in a minute. keep you recovered. after all. The Tools of Recovery are NOT an essential part of the OA program. if available. As a matter of fact. .

Because amends to those you have harmed allows your character defects to be removed. In this context “sponsor” means carrying the message. Helping OA out is a way of making certain that OA carries the message as well. It doesn’t.” How do you think it would sound if at an AA meeting someone said. ANNOTATION: We often hear. Food CAN be discussed at meetings. ANNOTATION: Page 164: “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. Seven. You don’t make amends to yourself. is to be distinguished from “carrying the message” through sponsorship and outreach. Certainly I would have been in relapse much much longer and might have done permanent damage to my body. Bob is reputed to have said: Clean House (Step Ten). and carrying the message keeps our recovery because it’s Step Twelve. and if she hadn’t. 8. “I mean REALLY!” And I fell apart and admitted I was in trouble. And you should be saying no if saying yes would allow another person to come to harm. you can still be helpful to people (there are meetings where no one has recovered. then that’s their problem. should not take a long time to get through. And doing just Steps One and Twelve will not bring about recovery. then maybe they’ll get desperate enough to do the steps. and what that is code for is “I have to learn to say no. Help Others (Step Twelve). Love to hear you talk. I was in relapse and was dying in this program. 10.” The Big Book is outerdirected. But if people asked me how I was.7. “Fine!” and they would say. but the Big Book is clear that what appeals to the compulsive eater who still suffers is a person who has been there. “Fine!”. it is absolutely true that you end up making amends to yourself by making amends to those you have harmed. “And then I picked up a glass filled with a yellow fizzy liquid and drank it?” If people who have not recovered get uneasy with stories about food. You should NOT sponsor until after you have completed Step Nine. but they should not take a long time if you work the steps the Big Book way. If you leave such a person alone. I have no idea whether I would ever have emerged from relapse. and Eight. But notice how this is all recast into thinking about others and not yourself. as I’ve discussed above. “You have no right to take my inventory!” then I would have gone back to eating badly and the same thing would happen— 70 . Six. but this time when I said. he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. and at those meetings people help each other out). as it often does when people exploit your people-pleasing nature and they harm themselves by doing harm to you. but Steps Four through Nine are what bring us recovery. And having your character defects removed is in fact the greatest amend you can make to yourself! 9. And if I hadn’t broken down and admitted I was in trouble. “Great to hear that. It provides the method for carrying the message. 12.” I come at this from a personal perspective. Service is NOT slimming. ANNOTATION: These are the steps which Bill put in to make certain there were no loopholes. They are stations on the way.” One day the shyest person in the room asked me how I was. and said to her. someone who has recovered from a seemingly hopeless condition of mind and body. “the first person I have to make amends to is myself”. not inward-directed. which will bring them recovery. Carrying the message is one of the prerequisites for continuing recovery. you have to take care of yourself—but that’s because you have an obligation to carry the message. you have to pay attention to them and be conscious of them. The instructions for them in the Big Book certainly indicate that they are not the huge steps that some commentaries have made. ANNOTATION: “Service”. Keep coming back! We love you. She was courageous and loving enough to confront me. And if they eat over it. Steps Three.” If you have not recovered. Trust God (Step Eleven). To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy. Now. she said. 11. If there is anything the Big Book stands for. As Dr. But there are “service junkies” in OA who think that doing service will give them recovery. ANNOTATION: Page 101: “In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. it is that your needs and your ego should not stand in the way of being useful to your higher power. I would tell them. Sure. I have to learn to take care of myself. Lawrie. but isn’t “there” any more. and how can you carry the message well if you’re not in good shape. Some people who come to OA should consider NOT coming back unless and until they’re ready! ANNOTATION: Page 96: “We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. at least from the Big Book perspective.

why aren’t we making it uncomfortable for them just to wallow in self-pity and fat? Sure. It doesn’t mince words. I once heard something like this in OA: “Truth without compassion is cruel. But we harm people if we don’t tell them the truth. but we shy away from the truth bit. So let’s think about how we treat our fellow-OAer who’s still suffering. why aren’t we confronting them with love and compassion. Are we killing that person with kindness? The headstones of Dr. But doesn’t each person who attends our meetings owe it to us and to OA as a whole to consider whether he or she REALLY wants to stop eating compulsively? Conclusion: The Big Book is tough.” Certainly everything we say has to be full of love and tolerance and compassion. And if people are using our meetings as coffee klatsches or pity pots and aren’t doing the steps. It’s down to earth. Neither mentions the pivotal role they played as co-founders of AA. who are clearly relapsing or not doing the steps. The Big Book is clear that we have a duty to be honest and straightforward. Tradition Three tells us that the only requirement for OA membership is the desire to stop eating compulsively. that my life was unmanageable. Questions: Here are some questions: · What do you think about the proposition that a recovered OA member owes a duty to reach a healthy body weight? What are the strong points of the meetings you go to? What are the weak points? Do the meetings you go to make doing the steps a priority? If not. many of us in OA may know how to do the compassion bit. and what do you think about that? Are you a service junkie? Why? Do you know people in OA who are being killed with kindness. what do they do.I would finally realize that I was powerless over food. and who are not being confronted with love? What ideas do you have for talking to people like that? · · · · 71 . And as people-pleasers. Bob and Bill W. Compassion without truth is harmful.

ability. So I don’t have an easy answer. however. not religious at all but with a deep spiritual side. a day at a time. How do we get abstinent how you resolve those two seemingly conflicting statements? before doing the Steps? We become desperate enough I have a deep personal interest in this because. the ones when we have finished Step Nine. If that means we have a food thing”. which I'll either!) To “just say no” seems so much like willpower. in my opinion for affirmation or denithere. we’re striving toward. what is my plan for not eating clearly love is more important than I am. so I relapse often and have for denial of God. They’re too different things. have to do. I’d like to think I would consider more impormake an appointment for doing Steps Three and Step tant than even my life. without working in God?: the Steps? Isn't that the same as willpower? And the BB tells us that willpower never works for us. For me. So how do we get abstinence? And does abstinence exception. that means refraining from eating my 'trigger foods'. can I the test. or whatever—we do what we that I am an agnostic. I understand abstinence is essential Step Nine as soon as possible. What can I do for that short time while I’m working on my steps? Here are some questions I was asked toward the end of Abstinence may or may not mean the end of cravings. sounds just like all the diets I've Abstinence is NOT the most important thing in my life without ever tried. for AA. It the Step Study I did online. standing which is higher (or more important) than I am”. to food. stop using. or that we weigh and measure. The key is getting to that cause me to relapse. “God” doesn’t mean what it means in the outside world. So what is the answer about consciousness of the presence of God is the most important thing in your life. It’s just a temporary thing. They are less are Agnostic. minored in religion in college and convertthat if we can keep to our plan of eating for a few weeks ed to Catholicism as a young adult. They don’t have to be fulfilled. it seems you are not Agnostic at all. Certainly I am morally certain that Five with that person. the consciousness of the presence of God is.Questions and responses: I get? It’s just a matter of weeks before I’ll recover. First. and hopeful raised Presbyterian. To give in to our cravings is. When I speak to someone who’s not a member buddy. Cravings are cravings. You wrote in Step 1: “I'm Jewish (but an agnostic. It may be that the writer is using the word “cravings” to describe the mental obsession that keeps us going back I'm having a hard time with the concept of abstinence. this just doesn't sound like words of an abstinence? Agnostic. sure thing I can suggest is to work out a plan. on which this booklet has means only the end of compulsive eating. RESPONSE: I am indeed an agnostic. It’s hanging in sufficient grounds. and I have to stop eating my trigger foods. would you make me understand me to clarify my thinking. They have to stop drinking. combined with a food plan. (IT sure doesn't for me. we will finally be free of the food. I consider myself an or a few months and work the Steps to the best of our Agnostic. what is there is! I have all kinds of beliefs in things that. the word “God” We do whatever we have to do to keep abstinent while means “a personal omnipotent person or persons or we’re working the Steps. or that we rid our of OA or any other Twelve Step Fellowship. There are no It’s NOT willpower. and a little easier to resist. at times. So forward to? Second. the In OA. but those of someone who has a deep faith that there RESPONSE: I appreciate this question because it allows is a God. of course. It’s desperation. so that I have something to look I would give up my life for my wife or my daughters. etc. which means that you suspend judgment. My question is how do we do that. The person who wrote has to be so desperate that he or she will do ANYTHING That was the question my first sponsor asked me: Is there to stop eating compulsively AND to work the steps. saying frequent now. I understand that this needs to be done BEFORE we can be actively 'working the How can a person with deep spiritual beliefs not believe Steps'. and talk about when we get to Step Two)” And in Step 12: “2. if put to my plan for doing the steps? Do I have a sponsor. and my responses to each of them: may still be quite hooked. This is not the condition al of God. Our bodies been based. I say clearly home of our binge foods. And theoreticompulsively? What tools should I use? What help can cally (because I’ve never had to face the issue) I’d like to think that I am courageous enough to die for truth or How do we get abstinent before doing the steps?: 72 . It’s just a day at a time. That is guaranteed to go away. If the to start the Steps over again. So my question is. “God” means “anything of my own underessence of our mental obsession. NA. But I still that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or have them and still give in to them. Outside of twelve-step fellowships. while I was about our own inability to control our food. One anything that is more important than I am? Well. or they may after a time not react quite the same.” If you mean the end of cravings? Mine haven't ended.

self-seeking. Step Ten is done on paper (using the forms or at least the BB instructions). precisely! By changing our behavior we would be in the context of THAT day. their concept seems to me that they feel as if they are “pushed” into a certain RESPONSE: There is one major similarity between Step direction. the way the Step concepts and not for myself or for my own ideas of what Eleven form suggests for Evening Meditation? When I take a should be. Love. You DON’T make amends to yourself. and deals with anything that is on your mind. Wouldn't then forgiving others first. and I could be magnetic North Pole—they are the direction I go toward. that they had the best of intentions! Similarity: they both incorporate the concepts of doing Steps Four through Nine. I would selfishness. I 73 .years. wrong! Sure. Practically speaking. is done as needed. My job is to be of maximum helpfulSo I have decided that my Higher Power consists of the ness to others. relationship with my mother) to selfishness (I just don’t The only way that we will ultimately feel better is to want her sick). I would think of make amends to ourselves. I get my direction from Truth. And beautiful things overwhelm me and make may say no to people whom I used to enable. and I understand. It is true that in making amends to others. when I found myself getting very so. As I work the steps. truth to tell. Justice. So the Step Ten was a big one. and thus have our character Elevens dealt with day-to-day issues. look outward not inward! We don’t try to make amends to ourselves. I may take me feel very humble. and doesn't necessarily require a Step Five. I live my life for those when I do a Step 11. Love. but many major and Beauty. so that I believe that beauty is personal time to get into better shape and to relax. My mother was quite ill for four I thought that by stopping/or changing my self-abusive behav. At least that’s how I see it. But we change our behavior any interactions I had with either of them. Every day I might do a Step Eleven thinking about her and my father. Justice. Love. requires a formal Step Five. We make amends to others. discover a whole bunch of long-range issues dealing with my entire reaction to my mother’s illness and my father’s My proposition that “you don’t make amends to yourrole as well—things relating to self-pity (I don’t have the self” is intended to deal with the quite popular concept mother of my childhood) to fear (will it hurt my father’s that we have to take actions that make us FEEL better. and fear. I may take actions that ultimately benefit me. dishonesty. I have to make adjustments in reading the Big Book. Step Ten is a "mop-up"—that is. change ourselves into different people—people who moody. including Steps 4-9. My Step make amends to others. it picks up on the long-term issues that weren't covered in You said “8. then be making amends to myself? Here’s an example. Justice. 11 inventories: and my defects of character are removed by Step Nine. which was. I am no longer blocked. Ten /and the nighttime Step Eleven. and in those four years my father spent a great ior. by using those concepts as a kind of a differences. written by middle-aged ex-gutter-drunk white Christians who tried their best to be as inclusive as possible. Differences: The Step Eleven meditation is not done on paper. the REASON I am doing those things is to help others and to make amends. and My question is: Am I doing a Step 10. what I have to keep in mind! From “We Agnostics” in the Big Book I take it that my problem is that I have blocked myself off from Truth. from their attempts to be inclusive. But I’m not perfect either. Justice. the fewer Step Tens you will probably in the prayer “The Our Father”––”Forgive us our trespasses AS have to do! WE FORGIVE THOSE who have trespassed upon us”. deals only with the past day. and Beauty. but didn’t always succeed. Does 10 When people who believe in a personal God say they get supersede 11 or vice versa? their “direction” from God. But something that is more important than I am. the more carefully you why my thinking on this is wrong because I go by that phrase do Step Eleven. and in doing But every so often. including Steps 4-9. Beauty become my guides in life.” Tell me Step Eleven. I was making amends to myself? deal of energy taking care of her. That is abstract notions of Truth. or whether I in order to undo the harms we have caused others! We had even spoken or seen them that day. is done daily. but it RESPONSE: Yes. Amends to yourself?: Practically speaking. I would do a Step Ten and just put my mother are not blocked off from the sunlight of the spirit by and my father down on the resentment form.justice. and Beauty—or what I will call God accordDifference between Step 10 and before nighttime Step ing to the Third and Eleventh Step. and Truth. Love. the Big Book says at page 102. Step 10 am I automatically doing a Step 11? I know that there are two different sets of questions for each Step. defects removed.

Right now I need encouragement from people like yourself who have walked my path. They do that because they feel an OBLIGATION to provide hope to the newcomer who still suffers. We have to make certain that they see hope in the rooms! The issue of service: You wrote: “I was doing harm to OA. And what kind of hope is there if a person who is grossly overweight talks to a newcomer who wants to lose weight about how wonderful the Twelve Steps are. It means we have to work TOWARDS a healthy body weight. I trust that is what this person means by having achieved “spiritual recovery”. for various medical reasons. They might be taking medication. As well. all weight). I want to make it clear that the first issue is not how I hope that’s clearer. Their metabolism might be shut down. and it 74 . I do have spiritual recovery and people do have respect for me. And that means.That. however. So newcomers who came to the meeting were I have met many people in the program who have been scared off. Really. I know people who have recovered who simply can’t achieve a healthy body weight. so of course OA wasn’t working for me. but probably from OA morbidly obese who have recovered. It seems to me that you are saying if a person is not a normal weight. or 200 or 300 pounds but they are still working towards losing hundreds more. I wasn’t working the steps.defensive in this program. I mean that the person has had “the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from” compulsive eating (the definition from the Appendix on Spiritual Experience)—then that person is able to help others and be an inspiration to others. In meetings and one-on-one all of these people explain. I was talking about how wonderful OA was. Even obese. writing things down on paper and phoning their sponsors and working out Steps Eight & Nine. To carry it to the best of my clear in a number of ways. when it was apparent to everyone except me that OA wasn’t working for me. There may be many other reasons. It wasn't until three years ago that I immersed myself in the BB step study process. I have been in program since 1991 and have had success in losing weight. but whether that person has recovered through joining together because we have a desire to stop eating the Twelve Steps. We are all who we are. That comes from my suggestion that we have a duty to be a model in the program in order to help the newcomer. I did however use OA as a diet. at any rate. I think it is wonderful that this ability means that I cannot be content to have achieved person is fighting his/her way out of relapse. I am fighting my way out of it now. I have freedom from the bondage of food without working to indeed been in relapse and know how difficult it is. My service work was not getting me slim. they are inspirations. compulsively. when I use the word “recovered”. that we have a duty to WORK TOWARDS a healthy body weight. They are beacons of hope to so many people who are morbidly obese. I think. I hate going to my old meetings because of my weight. But many Big Book thumpers actually see the nighttime Step Eleven as being an occasion for doing a complete Step Ten. is how I see it. Not just from that meeting. honest. Note I say “healthy” and not “normal” or “thin”. I could not go to meetings all winter long and as a result. I studied and worked very hard at it. We have an obligation to be loving and If a person has recovered through the Twelve Steps— and remember. I feel like I've been put under a microscope after I read your post. It doesn’t mean we have to BE at a healthy body weight in order to help the newcomer. that they have recovered from the bondage of food but are still in the process of losing their weight or just physically cannot lose any more weight. but they are also working towards losing much more weight. You alluded to being in relapse so you must understand what that feels like. But I have no problem with suggesting that each recovered OAer reflect on whether he or she is doing everything possible to carry the best message. Step Twelve tells me to carry the message of recovery to those who still suffer. The second issue comes AFTER recovery. And they’re inspirations as well. Ultimately the people we have to think about most are compulsive eaters who still suffer. They have lost 100 as a whole. when you come down to it. I believe that means I have to carry RESPONSE: I am very sorry that I didn’t make myself it to the best of my ability. And I know others who are tremendously overweight but have worked the steps quickly and have achieved recovery. I hope and pray that I will regain the willingness I had years ago and will go forward. make certain that it shows on me physically. if that person doesn’t explain his or her condition? If you’re not a normal weight are you credible?: I was feeling a bit let down by your last post. And they are inspirations as well. I don’t think anyone need feel much weight one has lost (assuming one was over. I was sick last winter and was housebound for over three months. but we don’t have a right to judge anyone else. every day. whatever that means. is not very credible to others at meetings. They are the most important people in the room. I went into relapse.

I’ll do that job. Luckily alive! we are finding that we are carrying a great message of When I said that “service isn’t slimming” I meant only recovery. Fear other than a place and some publicity. say goodbye to others. And when we recovered we attracted more people. That meant that we couldn’t do all the fantastic things that we had done before. worth while! Service can be an adjunct for doing the steps. I also think this: if a meeting doesn’t have enough people to perform all the functions of that meeting. who wants to talk anyway . These internet meetings and step studies have helped me more than face to face meetings. others follow suit. and they won’t let you speak at some meetings until you get 30 days of abstinence. And the end result is that the division of labor becomes so much for some that burn-out occurs as they try to keep their support group going so that those who need to leave for their “recovery. When we did that we recovered. to be able to be responsible for the keys. . isn’t carrying a message of recovery. That.and pretty soon we find ourselves with our main job being finding people to welcome newcomers. hates the non-abstinent state they're in. doing all the things still suffers. It doesn’t take recovery do the jobs that were now needed.” So my question becomes: Do you feel someone who loves program. We are simply connected. the busiest among us begin looking for replacements or doing it ourselves. They announce their departure and why to their Trusted Servant list and. passing on announcethey recognized that OA was carrying a great message ments. Other people should not compensate for the lack of volunteers. we don’t deserve to have. It can help keep us from returning to the food WHILE we’re doing Constantly judged in meetings because of weight: the steps and recovering. . I owe it to my recovery. But if not. If we stray from them. You don’t have to be recovered to do a lot were more of them. should leave their service job as a result? made. That’s tough talk. it is that prohibit the mention of specific foods do not seem very important that literature be available and coffee be 75 . and meetings great to have regular business meetings.” So. If or a meeting. If I have taken on a job. And doing that kind of work as a result.” We have many Trusted Servants and need many more. then they should suffer the consequences of not having things kept going. putting out the literature. OA. and I really don't feel supported in the rooms of OA. then not! And if intergroup doesn’t have someone to buy literature or to put out the newsletter or to chair the meetings. or can’t carry the message of the Twelve Steps. They have been entrustThe Big Book says that we can’t give away what we don’t ed to us. We lost members over a decade ago. it would be is not a good reason for doing anything. an OA meeting needs very little to function meetings should be able to mention specific foods. They are receiving a mixed message. And when we attracted RESPONSE: This is a good point. Sure. I feel I am constantly being judged by how much weight I am losing in the rooms. then its reason for existence is no longer valid. And sure. our meetings grew stronger and there myself clear. like dominoes. For example. And more people were available to of service work in this program. The food obsession and sugar addiction has been harder for me than the alcohol. lead meetings and dozens of other things. or an intergroup. and that means that if we have not recovered. making the They were doing them not to “do service” but because coffee. then that meeting should consider whether it really needs all those functions or whether it should simply work on the recovery of its members. collecting money. then maybe intergroup should figure out why it needs to exist for the time being. can keep us busy and feeling responsible and feeling The Twelve Steps do not belong to OA. we keep them as ours. doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help keep our lifeline. a secretary of a support group begins to slip and heads into relapse. Multiply this many times over. And the only way to keep them alive was to work the Steps resolutely. at least in an AA meeting people can be honest. I must leave. Thus OA as a whole is beginning to prosper that just keep OA running. I believe that OA has to focus on recovery first. We had to focus on keeping our shrinking meetings alive. and therefore putting our energies into OA is that service is not a SUBSTITUTE for doing the steps. guardians of the Twelve Steps. I think that’s why our membership is increasing after a large decline.was scaring away prospective members. But that even OA as a whole. But if there aren’t enough people to keep things going. Everything else follows. And it would be great to send someone to intergroup. coupled with not being able to mention "food". We get a letter—”Sorry. and not be reprimanded for it. But I’m not going to do three other jobs simply because the jobs exist! RESPONSE: As I explained in the last chapter the Big Book’s approach to the steps certainly suggests that In the end. and share their "pain" openly. I’m sorry I didn’t make more people. helping out at the silent aucand was a beacon of hope for the compulsive eater who tion or at the convention—in short.

about face to face meetings. They dedication. when I’m on a computer I am physically me to be trusting that the message of recovery certain that when you speak at one of those lousy meetthrough the Twelve Steps will overcome fears like that. You can be a founder! You can plant the seed in your own home I don’t mean to denigrate online meetings. After you have ings are a godsend for them and a wonderful thing in and analyzed your own motives and perspective through a of themselves. They provide all kinds of wonderful qualities. They may have a appear to be crummy? Try to change them. Then go to those meetings and make them comes from the Twelve Steps. to prevent anyone from sharing at a message. And that dedication comes from necessity. ings that you give a clear positive message. At a face to face OA meeting there are simply people who The importance of face to face meetings: are recovering and people who are suffering.. I know that for me. Aren’t you doing them harm by not helping them out? You could make 76 . need a sponsor if you can’t get one. and you can’t share. Those who are sponsor. There’s no one else Their hope doesn’t come from speaking at a meeting or to blame but yourself. I’ve also heard from people who say that there are no face to face meetings where they live. to fulfill that purpose. I discussed debilitating illness that immobilizes them. But you’ve having trouble recovering yourself because On the other hand. I have to find eye or hear their voices. It is against OA World Service Business Policy. If there are no meetings sensitive to them as I would like to be. You could make yourself available to sponsor. and they’re clique-ish. a meeting I go to recently voted to the meetings available to you don’t have recovered peoswitch from going around the room to asking for volunple in them. Do what the Big Book says. allow us to think a lot about what has been said because You’ll die if you don’t find some other compulsive eaters we can reread what has been said. and they People have written in who say that they don’t go to face gather for only one purpose and do nothing else but try to face meetings because the meetings aren’t very good. Step Ten (Four through Nine) and have determined that But if you are capable of going to a meeting. etc. and there’s meeting. I want to talk More than that. Do a Step Four about all those compulsive eaters who go to those meetthrough Nine or a Step Ten on that issue. I would try to create them. you have a rare opportunity. what they think is OA and never return. They provide a world of recovery that we It’s not hard to start a meeting. For me. or hold their compulsive eaters who still suffer. think about the meetings really are not good. And of course there who still suffer! are people who for many different reasons are simply What if you live in a place where there are meetings that physically unable to go to meetings. I can be on a chatline. With today’s multi-tasking computers. or are completely turned off by reasons related to fear. then start thinking why you’re not going to that meeting. I don’t think that’s particularly person who still suffers! welcoming. That has had a fascinating effect on the this or that to happen. tion for me. better by your recovered presence! Although OA meetings provide a great deal of support. There sorry that there are meetings where people are actually are all kinds of ways for you to help the newcomer or the prevented from speaking. or no one recovered enough to who are filled with enthusiasm and hope. where you live. Are any of the ings and never recover. They are groups that are participate in these online meetings? I can’t speak for dedicated to carrying the message of recovery through everyone. I can’t look people in the meetings at all. I am limited in my sense and cannot be as message of recovery to them. Online meetthis aspect last week in some detail. though. The people who speak most often are those no one to sponsor. But isn’t it enough simply to type on my computer. typing on the the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous! computer sometimes requires a great deal of concentraI want to talk more. It just requires some often can’t find in our little neck of the woods. the Big Book says you don’t feeling down find people to speak to after the meeting. play solitaire. or a sense of not being in control. They are there when you ground! need them. I am er. Their hope Recover. to they are not support groups. look at my e-mail. Both of those separate me from my body and If I lived in a part of the world where there were no from other people’s bodies. I have to carry the hands. You could try to change the meeting through a group inventory. the phone. even sharing their feelings at a meeting. You could volunteer to speak to the newcommeeting because of where they are in the program. and they don’t allow teers to speak. but it also allows me to be distracted. Well. the group You could try to create a new meeting that gives a good conscience of OA. it’s not much different from being on about the importance of face to face meetings. etc. of course. and have music playing. or hug them.

Some people might simply say. Some OAers call these “fat serenity” people. You MUST make certain that you have analyzed your own motives before you even do or say anything. Certainly one way of talking to people in that situation is: “I may be wrong. What is going on with you?” Of course not everyone will suddenly respond as I did when confronted. The first suggestion is that you do or say nothing until you have done a Step Ten with that person or those people down as a resentment.” What if they are simply in denial and say. I’m concerned about your health. “Thanks for being concerned. but they’ll be back. “No. “You are visibly gaining weight. Going to meetings is the easiest way to find people to help. but I feel that you are having difficulties. through Twelve to maintain my spiritual fitness. And the best way of doing that is by going to as many meetings as I can (without neglecting the obligations I owe to my work and my family and my friends) and carrying the best message I can. I do Steps Ten don’t come to meetings for a while. and not for your own comfort or sense of control. yet talks with a lot of authority about the program and the steps. Some people might be so offended that they Now that I have recovered on a daily basis. but I don’t need any help. the implication is that they talk a lot about serenity. Remember that Step Ten is Steps Four through Nine in the context of recovery. I have to keep myself available. and I help least you’ll have done what you think is right! others (Step Twelve). and have simply learned to accept their overeating. Since I was certainly one of those people. Step Ten is the perfect way of making certain that anything you do you do for the good of other people. perhaps gaining weight. then pray for the right thing to say. If after going through Step Ten you come to the conclusion that you ultimately do more harm to those persons or to OA by remaining silent.” And maybe you’re wrong and they don’t need help. At house (Step Ten). I do have a process that you might consider. Or 77 . than you would do harm by saying something and thus maybe hurting their feelings. and I would like to help you in whatever way I can. I clean this time realizing how resentments are killing them.or shame or guilt? Those are pretty heavy things to carry maybe you’ve just planted the seeds of doubt in them about! and they’ll come to you or someone else for help in the future. I trust God (Step Eleven). no problems whatsoever”? You might be more direct and say. and the only way I know how to do that is to go through Step Ten. How to talk to someone who’s still suffering: I’ve been asked by a number of people how to talk to someone who’s been in the program for a long time and appears to be suffering. I MUST do Step Twelve or I will lose my recovery! I don’t want to do that. I’m fine.

It has. Maybe it’ll work for them. everything figure out how—for them on a personal level—they can that has happened to us has been given meaning and has carry the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps made us more fulfilled than we have ever been before. The first is that its approach as we do the hard work of carrying the message of recovery This is the end of the Step Study from a Big Book through the Twelve Steps. The Big Book doesn’t promise us a trouble-free life. But it’s hard 78 . I love to do them! They’re a way of repaying all those people from whom I have learned. May God bless you and keep to the problem and the solution—the simple concepts of you—until then. Not according to any good dictionary! No. If you haven’t recovered. One thing is certain: if the Steps aren’t working for you. and at the end of our lives. e-mail me at lawrie@oabigbook. on the other hand. Conclusion: If you ever have any for us! So as we walk with a weary pace. I love to hear about the spread of Abandon yourself to God as you understand the Big Book’s message of recovery within OA. then YOU aren’t working the Steps! Find a way to work the Steps and you will recover! If you ever want to hold a Big Book Workshop. The second is that it provides a powerful method of achiev. They say that “trudge” means “ to walk with a determined pace”. it means what it sounds like—“to walk with a weary pace”. glutton who has been given a second chance in life and During our lives. Clear away the wreckage of your There are many ways of doing the Twelve Steps. we will know is trying to carry a message I have learned from others. joyous. Just a note before quoting the passage. There is a world of people dying from our illness. that we have been useful to some other people. the physical cravings and the mental obsession. Let me end with page 164 of the Big Book. So we have our work cut out for us. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. it promises us a lot of work. They’re a way of feeling useful in life. I am simply a recovered fat destiny. I know past. hopeless and despairing. lawrie@oabigbook. of us as you trudge the Road of Happy however. to the best of their ability. two advantages.Lawrie Cherniack ing recovery relatively quickly. Give freely of what you find and join people far more spiritual than I who didn’t use the Big us. We have a solution. As a matter of fact. we are at least—and at last!— perspective. We will I hope no one will be offended by anything I’ve said. The second-last sentence has the word “trudge” in it. I want to emphasize that I am only a walking on a road which provides us with a happy student and not a teacher. but know that no matter what we have done in our lives and I hope people will be challenged by what I’ve said to no matter what we have suffered in our lives. and the spiritual solution of removing the mental obsession—is clear and makes sense to most compulsive eaters. and you will surely meet some that the Big Book approach is only one of many. I know what some people say it means. please don’t hesitate to We will know what it means to be happy. We shall be with you in the Fellowship Book’s set of instructions for doing the steps. God. so I know of the Spirit. We will know that we can be changed into useful people. and contact me personally by e-mail at the e-mail address at free! What a gift we have received! Let’s give it away! the end of this page. They try to put a happy face on it. you owe it to yourself at least to consider the Big Book’s approach. don’t change what you’re doing Winnipeg Manitoba Canada simply for the sake of So if you’re recovered.

79 .

80 .

81 .

Appendices 82 .

The physical craving overwhelms the alcoholic. F. C. B. D. but self-knowledge doesn’t work (7) Bill reaches the bottom—Bill’s Step 1 (8) Ebby tells Bill about the religious solution and expands it to create the spiritual solution. The mental obsession in general: The idea that somehow.) Rowland Hazard's encounter with Dr. . B. the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind. H. 569–570. someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. we’ll give examples so you can see whether you are an alcoholic (33–35) C. to the mental obsession. once he starts drinking. First letter (xxiii–xxiv): You may rely absolutely on anything they say about themselves. or huge emotional displacements and rearrangements are necessary. . Alcohol is the high part of life (1–5) Alcohol becomes a necessity (5–7) The kind doctor explains the physical craving and the mental obsession. The mental obsession tells him that he does not have the physical reaction. C. II. E. D. any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete. IV. B. The man of thirty—his falling victim first. to the physical craving.Appendix One––Schematic Outline Schematic Outline of the first 103 pages of the Big Book I. This phenomenon. In our belief. (25–26) (And note footnotes leading us to the Appendix on “Spiritual Experience”. . We have solved the drink problem and are united by a common solution (the Twelve Steps) (17) Alcoholism is an illness which has not been solved by professionals but alcoholics can be reached through fellow-suffers (18–19) This book is our attempt to provide the solution to all your problems by telling you what we did (19–20) The summary of the alcoholic problem: 1. as we have suggested. (30) We must smash the delusion that we will ever become physically normal—the craving will always hit us if we drink alcohol (30–32) 1. Jung—spiritual experiences. so that he can go back to drinking even when sober: Therefore. B. . Chapter 3: More about Alcoholism A. toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people . The authors summarize the second letter (xxiv–xxv)—[T]he body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. open to all—Bill’s Step 2 (9–12) Bill takes Steps 3 through 9 (13) Bill has a spiritual experience (14) Bill works Steps 10 through 12 (14–16) III. . Second letter (xxv–xxx): [T]hey cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. The Doctor’s Opinion A. C. and then. but cannot usually be reached through religion for the true alcoholic (26–28) This book contains clear-cut directions . rather than in his body. . 83 . he cannot stop (21–22) 2. (28–29) E. showing how we recovered. . Chapter 2: There is a Solution A. (22–25) There is a solution—deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life. F. . Chapter 1: Bill’s Story A. G. after twenty-five years of sobriety (32–33) Will-power is not sufficient for the alcoholic. G.

VI. and b. but decided that it would be nice to have a couple of cocktails with dinner. that’s exactly what this book is about. F. whether it’s for the worst or the best of reasons (60–62) 2. 3. Turn our life over to God: decide that hereafter in this drama of life. but you can draw on God’s power to help you. Summary: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. 2. Chapter 4: We Agnostics A. His defense must come from a Higher Power. Jim—the car salesman who had a bad day. and half measures will avail you nothing (58–59) The Twelve Steps (59–60) If we are convinced that we are alcoholic. the Wright brothers. Faith is necessary to reach our solution (53) 2. Practically speaking. and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves . But where and how were we to find this Power? Well. don’t worry (44) Will-power isn’t enough. we are selfish in that we want our way. a willingness to change our belief system leads to being able to do things that are thought to be impossible (Galileo. C.1. (43) V. although this may appear to pose difficulties for the agnostic or atheist. who knows the danger but can’t stop (37–39) Fred—the accountant who had a good day. we don’t have enough power to overcome alcoholism: We had to find a power by which we could live. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. (55) Fitz’s story: “Our Southern Friend”—Who are you to say there is no God? (55–57) C. neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. E. we’re like actors in a play who want to be the directors. We are already worshippers. our experience) (51–52) 3. Our theory is that a spiritual experience solves our problem. Turn our will over to God: any life run on self-will can hardly be a success . our ability to think (53–54) 3. that human power cannot relieve us. The fact is that we have solved our problem: the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of [our] lives (48–51) 2. (44–46) All we need is willingness to believe (46–48) Why believe in a Power greater than yourself? (48) 1. then we’re ready to take Step 3 (60) Step 3 1. He was as much a fact as we were. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. the sunset. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. loving others (54) 4. the way is hard and requires complete dedication. a flower. G. We need a spiritual experience to conquer the illness. who had self-knowledge and knew the problem. God was going to be our Director. Practically speaking. Our path works if we are honest. B. The promises as we take the steps—to have a new Employer (63) D. We already have some faith—in our reasoning. (53) 1. What was our choice to be? We are squarely confronted with the question of faith. or He isn’t. Chapter 5: How It Works A. Obviously. who had knowledge about himself but gave it all up for the foolish idea that he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk! (35–37) The jay-walker. Except in a few rare cases. B. and that God can. D. Everything really important to us has nothing to do with reason—it is all faith (54–55) Deep down inside us is God. (39–42) D. Clearly self-sufficiency and logic don’t work as a theory (52–53) The choice is clear: God either is. (62–63) 3. we believe in theories if they are grounded in fact—if they explain facts a. it may be obscured but the idea of God is there. ourselves. money. worshipping people. 84 . the sea.

there are promises (75) d. Chapter 6: Into Action A. The Step 3 prayer—to be taken with an understanding person (63) Step 4—the beginning of our inventory—the fact-finding (searching) and fact-facing (fearless) examination of what is blocking us from the sunlight of the spirit. self-delusion. Why we need to do Step 5 a. If we have written all this down. Resentment—the Past did not go my way (64–67)—see form for details 2. If we’ve been thorough. We have to do this (76–77) 2. Direct Amends a. Action of Step 5 a. fear) is at the heart of our problem. Making the amends when harm may be done (1) Restitution (example of unpaid alimony and harm to new family) (79) (2) Taking consequences for our past actions (example of denial of loan and harm to partner and family) (80) (3) Eyeball to eyeball (example of infidelity and harm to the person to whom we make amends) (80–82) Living Amends—the period of reconstruction. E. and won’t change our plan (74–76) 3. Sex Conduct—those relationships in which physical attraction was mixed in are the examples in our past by which we try to shape a sane and sound ideal for all relationships (68–70)— see form for details 4. We then go home and meditate. We have to be honest with another person (72–74) 2. we have made an inventory of [our] grosser handicaps (71) VII. Fear—the Future won’t go my way (67–68)—see form for details 3. 4. 5. 85 . where saying sorry isn’t enough (82–83) Amends we cannot make. every dark cranny of the past (75) c. We have a list and we must remove those things which have blocked us by sweeping away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. self-pity. Step 5 1. understand and approve of what we’re doing. We need objectivity to make certain that we know what has been blocking us from God (72) b. we considered its common manifestations (63–64) 1.4. Are we ready to have God remove those things which are blocking us from God? (76) Step 7 1. D. it’s okay so long as we’re ready to make them (83) The promises halfway through Step 9 (83–84) B. asking God whether we have omitted anything (75) Step 6 1. We must explain to that person why this is so important to us (75) b. being convinced that our selfishness (self-centredness. The Step 7 prayer Steps 8 and 9 1. That person must be able to keep a confidence. Making the amends when there is no harm done (1) Eyeball to eyeball (77–78) (2) Restitution (example of money) (78) (3) Taking consequences for our past actions (example of criminal offence) (78–79) b. We tell that person every twist of character. 3. C.

Describe self as an alcoholic. so long as we are spiritually fit (100–102) Our job description: to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others (102–103) D. qualify (91) 2. and don’t push him (94–96) Second meeting 1. B. As we go through the day—reminding ourselves we’re no longer in charge (87–88) F. and see if he wants to see you (89–91) First meeting 1. but don’t spend much more time with him. Give him a copy of the Big Book and encourage him to read it. 86 . Help him. lead into drinking stories. and the hopelessness (91–92) 3. Retiring at night—reviewing our day and doing an inventory process (Steps 4 through 9) in our meditation (86) 2. describe the physical craving and the mental obsession. Outline the programme of action (94) 5. Chapter 7: Working with Others A. Step 12: carrying the message Find a prospect. Awakening in the morning—previewing our day and asking God to free us from self-will (86– 87) 3. Talk generally. The continuation of the inventory process—Steps 4 through 9—whenever needed (84) 2. Help his family. if you can (98–100) Our freedom—what we can do—how we can be near alcohol with no problem. find out all you can. VIII. F. G. and explain the spiritual aspect of it (92–94) 4. Offer your solution. offer to be with him in Step 3 and to hear his Step 5 (96) Sponsorship 1. If he wants to go through the Twelve Steps. E. The promises at the end of Step 9 and the beginning of Step 10—Sanity is reached at last! We are neutral to alcohol—we no longer have the mental obsession (84–85) Step 11 1. C.E. but not at your expense and not in a way that makes him dependent upon you (96– 98) 2. Step 10 1. sponsor him.

felt at once? ►  ►  After Step Four: ►  ►  ►  ►  Have I written down a lot? Have I listed and analyzed my resent­ ments? Have I begun to comprehend the futility and fatality of my resentments? Have  I beg un to  lear n tol er an ce. even my enemies? Do I loo k on  my  enem ies  as  sick people? Have I listed the people I hurt by my conduct and am I willing to straighten out the past if I can? Am I convinced that God can remove whatever self-will has blocked me off from Him? Have I swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about myself? ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  After Step Five: ►  ►  ►  Am I delighted?   an I look the world in the eye? C Can I be alone at perfect peace and ease? ►  ►  Before half-way through Step Nine (the Promises): ►  ►  ►  ►  Do I know a new freedom and a new happiness? Do I not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it? Do I comprehend the word serenity and do I know peace? Do I see how my experience can benefit others. walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe? Is my work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place?  Have I skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have I tried to make mortar without sand? ►  ►  After Step Three: ►  Was an effect. patience. no matter how far down the scale I have gone? Has that feeling of uselessness and self­ pity disappeared? Have I lost interest in selfish things and gained interested in my fellows? Has self­seeking slipped away? Has my whole attitude and outlook upon life changed? Has fear of people and of economic insecurity left me? Do I intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle me? Have I suddenly realized that God is doing for me what I could not do for myself? ►  ►  ►  ►  .Appendix Two––Promises Checklist A Big Book Checklist of Promises (What step are you on?) ►  Steps One and Two: ►  Is it clear to me that I am a compulsive overeater and cannot manage my own life? Is it clear that no human power can relieve my compulsive overeating? Is it clear that God can and will relieve my compulsive overeating if I seek God? ►  ►  ►  ►  Have my fears fallen from me? Have I begun to feel the nearness of my Creator? Am I beginning to have a spiritual expe­ rience? Has the eating problem disappeared (not always)? Do I feel as if I am on the Broad High­ way. even a very great one. and good will toward all men.

intuitive thought. anger. no matter what my present circumstances? Can I do all sorts of things compulsive eaters are not supposed to do? Can I go where my killer­food is served; can I have my killer-food in my home. Am I reacting sanely and normally. self-pity. Has what used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually become a working part of the mind? As time passes. do I watch movies or television which show scenes of eating my killer-food. to have a host of friends? Have remarkable things happened? Am I presently living in a new and wonderful world. worry. do I see friends who eat my killer-food. or foolish decisions? Have I become much more efficient? Do I not tire so easily? ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  88 . to see them help others. do I go to restaurants which serve my killerfood. can I be reminded of my killer-food? Have I found release from care. or decision.Page 2 After Step Twelve After Step Nine: ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  Have I ceased fighting anything or any one—even food?   as sanity returned? H Am I seldom interested in food? If tempted by food. to watch loneliness vanish. boredom and worry? Has my imagination been fired? Does life mean something at last? Do I know what it means to give of myself that others may survive and rediscover life? Have I learned the full meaning of “Love thy neighbor as thyself”? Has God shown me how to create the fellowship I crave? Have great events come to pass for me and countless others? ►  ►  After Step Ten: ►  ►  Have I begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into me? Have I to some extent become God con­ scious? Have I begun to develop this vital sixth sense? ►  ►  ►  After Step Eleven: ►  Am I surprised  how  the  right  answers have come when I have tried to relax. to see a fellowship grow up about you. and wait for God’s inspiration. do I recoil from it as from a hot flame. do my friends no longer have to hide their stores of killer-food when I visit them. and has this happened automatically? Do I feel as though I had been placed in a position of neutrality. safe and protected? Has the problem been removed?  Has it ceased to exist for me? Am I neither cocky nor afraid? ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  ►  Has life taken on a new meaning? Do I not want to miss the opportunity to watch people recover. take it easy. fear. is my thinking more and more on the plane of inspiration? Am I in much less danger of excitement.

We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed. It didn’t work. therefore. the levelling of our pride. He is the Principal. Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might build what I saw in my friend. Next. we had to quit playing God.Belief through hope We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. Into Action): Steps Four through Nine -. There is a Solution) There is a solution. First of all. the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. or am I even willing to believe. Bill’s Story): Step One -. crossing from the Bridge of Reason to the shore of faith. we are his agents. Do I now believe. Nothing more way required of me to make my beginning. Most good ideas are simple. and we are His children.Direction through decision This is the how and why of it. Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand? 89 . there was nothing for us to do but pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. When.Appendix Three––The Arch of Freedom From Alcoholics Anonymous .) Keystone (page 62. that there is a Power greater than myself?” As soon as a man can say that he does believe. But we saw that it really worked in others. for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last. we decided that hereafter in this drama of life. or is willing to believe. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built. and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. Cornerstone (page 47.Willingness through despair It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. He is the Father. and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom. we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved. Path (page 75. God was going to be our Director. the Big Book: Foundation (page 12. We Agnostics): Step Two -.Freedom through action Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask ourselves if we have omitted anything. I saw that growth could start from that point. Almost none of us liked the self-searching. How it Works): Step Three -. (Related to page 53 and the story on page 56. Would I have it? Of course I would! (page 25.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.